Prof Briggs not so Reserved in Shrewsbury

Veteran Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) National Lead, Professor Tim Briggs, was one of the three keynote speakers on Tuesday’s conference (23/11/21) co-hosted by Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Integrated Care System (STWICS) and 202 (Midlands) Field Hospital, a unit of the Royal Army Medical Corps. The event was held in Shrewsbury at the Shropshire Education & Conference Centre.

The theme – From Reserve Forces Review 2030 Strategy to Implementation by the NHS and the Army Medical Services Reserve – ​discussed military and medical history, the relationship between the NHS and defence, and the work of Reservists and veterans – many with transferrable skills – within the healthcare system. Speakers were drawn from a range of disciplines. 

The aim was to bring together leaders from the Army Medical Service and leaders from an Integrated Care System with a strong record in recognising the importance of supporting its Army Reserve; to share a vision to further exploit the collaboration in ways that help each other address many shared strategic and operational challenges; and to review examples of good practice.  Around 75 leaders from the NHS, the Army Medical Service, and Health and Social Care integrated systems attended in person and virtually.

The National Lead for the VCHA, Professor Tim Briggs, CBE, who is also National Director for Clinical Improvements for the NHS, spoke about his experience and how it had led him to write The Chavasse Report, and to the formation of the VCHA.  He further commented on the special nature of the collaboration between the armed forces community and the NHS, and how he was particularly inspired by some of the stories of NHS staff who were also reservists. 

VCHA Team Lead Guy Benson said: “It’s interesting to hear about how military training and experience can deliver real benefit to the NHS. There were numerous examples, but what really stood out for me was the experience of former RAF Sergeant Paul Twitchell.”

The veteran was previously an Explosive Ordnance Disposal operator, and gave a very personal account of his service, and his subsequent diagnoses with Post-Traumatic ​Stress Disorder.  Speaking at the conference he said:

I have no doubt that the Trust being Veteran Aware quite literally saved my life.

Former RAF Sgt Paul Twitchell – image copyright Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

Mr Twitchell is now employed at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and is actively involved in its Veteran Aware programme.

The day concluded with a challenge from Executive Lead for the STWICS Mark Brandreth, who asked those present to “make Shropshire the best place in the country for a veteran to live and work.” He then quoted a previous speaker, Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital: “facta non verba – deeds not words.”

David Wood, VCHA Regional Lead for the Midlands and for the East of England, and a veteran himself, commented: “Indeed!  Deeds, and not simply words, is precisely what the VCHA – and its health improvement plan – is all about.”

The Veteran Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) is committed to improving Armed Forces and Veteran care whilst raising standards for all. 103 NHS providers in England are now Veteran Aware accredited, and the VCHA aims to have all Trusts in England accredited by November 2022 at the latest. Find out more about our work and about Rehab by clicking here.


25 November 2021

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