Five NHS trusts across have all been accredited as Veteran Aware by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA).
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, which are all in London, joined East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust in being awarded Veteran Aware status in time for Remembrance.
Their recognition brings the total numbers of NHS trusts now accredited by the VCHA to 129. The VCHA is a group of NHS healthcare providers in England committed to providing the best standards of care for the Armed Forces community.
The award means they have all signed up to the ethos of the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a guarantee by the nation that those who serve, or who have served, in the Armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
The aim is to develop, share and drive the implementation of best practice that will improve armed forces veterans’ care.
Professor Tim Briggs CBE, NHS National Director for Clinical Improvement in NHS England, VCHA National Lead and Honorary Colonel of 202 Midlands Field Hospital, said:
“It is especially poignant for the team and myself to be awarding Veteran Aware status at this time of year. Many of my team are either veterans or reservists so understand about the risks that service men and women undertake. It is only fair that we work towards improving healthcare for the armed forces community, once they have left active service.
“Veteran Aware accreditation means that these five trusts have all made a huge commitment to the service men and women of this country. They should be very proud of the efforts they’ve made; I know I am.
“Thank you for the work you’ve all put in, despite the undoubted pressures I know you will be under at the moment.”
Richard Henderson, Chief Executive at EMAS, said: “I am delighted that the work that EMAS undertakes in supporting our pledges to the Armed Forces Covenant and the Veteran Covenant Heath Care Alliance has been rewarded by being presented with “Veteran Aware” accreditation, especially at such a poignant time of the year when we will be gathering to remember all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice as part of serving their country.
“Achieving this accreditation is the next step in our journey to support veterans, serving members of the Armed Forces and their families with the best care possible.”
Lieutenant Colonel Alex Saunders, Associate Director of Nursing for Resuscitation, Simulation and Armed Forces at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are extremely pleased to be recognised as a Veteran Aware NHS Trust this year, and just before Remembrance Day makes it even more poignant. The Trust is working hard to ensure that our Armed Forces Community, including our veterans are not disadvantaged when accessing services across any of our sites.
“This is very much the beginning of our journey to ensure a culture exists where staff ask and recognise service where necessary, allowing us to better care for our patients and signposting to support services if needed.”
Caroline Clarke, group chief executive of the Royal Free London, said: “We want to ensure that veterans are able to access the healthcare that they need and so we’re delighted to have been given this special accreditation.
“Our work in continuing to support both staff and patients who’ve been members of the armed forces is the best way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who have those who have dedicated themselves to serving this country.”
Darren Farmer, Director of Ambulance Services at London Ambulance Service, said: “We are grateful for the incredible dedication and selflessness that military staff – past and present – have offered to the people of this country.
“We know that this community faces a number of different physical and mental healthcare challenges and we’re proud to be working to improve their care. It is particularly touching to have achieved recognition of our commitment as we mark this year’s Remembrance Day.”