Successful VCHA South West regional workshop

On Wednesday 15 November the VCHA hosted a well-received regional workshop for healthcare providers in the south west.

The aim of the event, held at Taunton Rugby Club, was to encourage and support all healthcare organisations, whether NHS or private, to better work together in supporting the Armed Forces Community ie ‘joining the dots’ for armed forces patients and their families wherever they are treated.

The workshop reflected the diverse range of organisations delivering healthcare services for the Armed Forces Community across the south-west. 

At the start of the day, organisations were asked to consider:

  • What each was trying to do in relation to the Armed Forces Community
  • What was working and not working
  • To identify barriers to implementation, sustainability and continuous improvement
  • To share solutions to problems
  • To effectively connect with colleagues in other organisations. 

South-west regional lead Bernadette Knight chaired the meeting and provided a national and regional update as well as a presentation on the VCHA and DMWS data pilot project.

Bernadette Knight

Other presenters were Rob Munro, the National Digital Armed Forces Community Connected Care Record Programme Manager; Tania Currie from The Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who spoke about patient experience best practice at the Trust and working with DMWS staff; VCHA Rehabilitation Lead Linus Cosgrove who spoke about the rollout of the Rehab pilot across four NHS trusts.

A GP perspective was provided by Dr Osawaru Osawe , from St James Surgery in Devizes, where there is a strong military tradition, while James Potter, a physician associate at the Practice Plus Group at Plymouth Hospital, provided the view of an independent group and how it works with the wider NHS system.

Finally, Teri Underwood, Armed Forces project lead, provided the view of NHS Somerset ICB.

The workshop ended with a discussion about next steps.

Bernadette said: “Thank you to all who attended. We have learned a lot including about the challenges. We have been aware of some of these previously such as a lack of interoperability in IT systems, and some were new. Equally, the clearly increasing levels of collaboration across the south west is encouraging.  Services supporting our Armed Forces Community are expanding and improving. The evidence is there through VCHA including the Data project and the Rehab pilot;  through the ongoing, successful implementation of Op Courage, Op Restore, Op Community, Veteran Friendly Framework in social care, and through increasing levels of partnership between the NHS, third sector and independent sector. 

“Identifying and understanding the needs of our Armed Forces population is crucial to successful delivery and we are getting better at this.  The significant improvement in recent years is clear and we are working hard together to ensure these improvements are sustained and continued.”

Presentations are available via these links:

1 Bernadette Knight – Introduction

1a Bernadette Knight-National Perspective

2 Bernadette Knight – Data Project

3 Rob Munro – National Data project

4 Tania Currie – Patient Experience

5 Linus Cosgrove – VCHA Rehab

6 Osawaru Osawe – RCGP Forces Friendly Practice

7 James Potter – PPG & Independent Sector

8 Terri Underwood – ICB Somerset perspective


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