South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) has been accredited as Veteran Aware, meaning it takes account of the needs of members of the Armed Forces Community.
The Trust provides services across multiple sites in the London boroughs of Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth to about 1.1 million people with a total patient population of about 20,000 at any given time. The Trust also operates in other community locations in London and the south east, and provides many national services such as those for people with eating disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as well as national deaf services.
The accreditation process was overseen by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA).
Its aim is to make sure that patients from the Armed Forces Community, including families, 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 NHS Long Term Plan 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.
VCHA Regional Lead Bernadette Knight said: “The Trust is early on in its development of a specific improvement approach for Armed Forces Community patients and staff, but is well engaged and committed. It has made impressive improvements from first contact with the VCHA and has a comprehensive plan to continue. I look forward to seeing how it progresses.”
VCHA Chairman, Prof Tim Briggs CBE, said: “More and more Trusts are seeing the value of Veteran Aware accreditations as seen through the numbers of Trusts that are now accredited. We now stand at 80% of NHS Trusts across England, which is a testament both to the dedication of my team and to the wider NHS family who work tirelessly on behalf of the military community despite the many pressures they will be under. Well done all.”
Vanessa Ford, the Trust Chief Executive, said: “I would like to personally add that I am very proud of the Trust for the work and focus to obtain Veteran Aware Status, especially at this time of year when we take time to remember and commemorate our veterans and wider armed forces community.”