Looking back over this year, I have been struck by and delighted to see that NHS trusts in England, as well as many organisations from the independent health sector and hospices, continue to demonstrate a strong desire to improve the health of our Armed Forces Community and to drive down disadvantage.
That said it has been a challenging year for NHS trusts given operational pressures, capacity and the on-going industrial action. Despite these pressures NHS trusts have continued to accredit and we most strongly acknowledge their outstanding efforts; thankyou.
VCHA accreditations currently stand at 172 NHS trusts, which means that 82% of NHS trusts in England are now accredited – this is an incredible achievement. In addition, and as directed by the Government, the VCHA has widened scope to include the independent health sector and hospices. There are now 20 organisations currently accredited, with a number in the VCHA pipeline for 2024.
Alongside this, the Veteran Friendly Framework (VFF) – a new pilot accreditation service for care homes who care for armed forces’ veterans – is now up-and-running. The VFF is a collaboration between the Royal Star & Garter, the Royal British Legion and the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance, with funding support from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.
Furthermore, our rehabilitation project is developing well. Our Rehab Lead has been piloting the recommendations from the Rehab report and has created a best practice model for veterans in rehab services. This is being piloted across five sites with a final report due to be published in April 24. The model will then be incorporated into accreditation to support continuous improvement.
In addition and over the last six months, the team have been piloting data capture, with a project report due early January 2024. The aim of the project has been to identify and establish a potential national, universal, core reporting dataset related to the provision of healthcare to our Armed Forces Community.
Finally, to all our Armed Forces Community and indeed our NHS staff, I pay tribute and thank you for all that you do in challenging times.