United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust (ULHT) has been re-accredited as Veteran Aware. The Trust, which was originally accredited in February 2020, met standards laid down by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), a national NHS team.
The VCHA’s aim is to ensure that patients from the Armed Forces Community, including families and dependents, are paid due regard and are not disadvantaged in terms of access to and outcomes of healthcare, as a result of their military life in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.
It does this by developing, sharing and driving the implementation of best practice, while at the same time raising standards for everyone in NHS Trusts in England. The Veterans Strategy action plan 2022 has since expanded the programme to include hospices and the Independent Care Sector.
The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve, or who have served, in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. This means it takes active note of the needs of the Armed Forces Community.
ULHT’s reaccreditation means that 75 per cent of NHS providers across England (157) are Veteran Aware accredited, and the alliance aims to have all Trusts in England accredited by the end of the first quarter of 2024.
ULHT is one of the biggest acute hospital trusts in England, serving a population of over 720,000 people from four main hospital sites and 29 satellite clinics across Lincolnshire.
Lincolnshire has strong connections with the military. It is home to RAF Waddington, RAF Digby, RAF Cranwell and RAF Coningsby as well as Joint Services Signal Unit (Volunteers) at Lincoln and sub units of 3 Royal Anglian, 102 Bn REME, 2 Ops Support Group RLC, 159 Regt RLC, 167 Regt RLC and 254 Med Regt and Prince William of Gloucester Barracks. This means there is a sizable Armed Forces Community that ULHT serves. It is estimated that it makes up about 22 per cent of the local population, far higher than many other regions.
Regional Lead David Wood said: “ULHT has reinvigorated its links with the military laying firm foundations, which it has built upon. That has allowed its current efforts to blossom and excel. Armed Forces Lead Steve Martin’s personal efforts in advocating the Veteran Aware agenda has been quite remarkable, his reach to neighbouring trusts, regionally and nationally through NHS England Employment events has showcased the Trust’s exemplar Veteran Aware programme.”
Steve Martin, Armed Forces Staff Network lead at ULHT said: “I’m exceptionally proud of the work we have done as a staff network to create a culture of support for the Armed Forces community within the Trust, and with so many veterans calling Lincolnshire home it was important for us to get this right.
“We hope our reaccreditation signifies that we are continuing our support beyond our initial pledges, including to those considering a career in our hospitals and that our armed forces community should not face disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of healthcare.”