Operational pressures across the NHS in England have led to a slight reduction in the pace of Veteran Aware accreditations of NHS trusts by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) team this year.
Numbers continue to grow, albeit at a reduced rate. Accreditations currently stand at 132 Trusts, which means that 64% of trusts in England are now accredited. In addition, and as directed by Government, the VCHA is now widening scope to include the independent health sector and hospices. There are now seven organisations currently accredited, with a number in the VCHA pipeline for 2023.
The further enshrining of the Armed Forces Covenant into law has allowed us to build upon the work that NHS trusts are leading on to help serving personnel, reservists, veterans, and their families to have the same equality of access to public services as their civilian neighbours.
Recently released Census data about numbers of UK Armed Forces veterans in England and Wales was specially revealing in the numbers of veterans which showed that 1,853,112 people in England and Wales said they had previously served in the UK Armed forces (3.8% of usual residents aged 16 years and over).
VCHA chairman Prof Tim Briggs said: “The VCHA has had a good year. We have accredited more trusts and are working on our pilot of accrediting the independent care sector and hospices which without doubt is improving healthcare for the Armed Forces community and is certainly gaining traction.
“However, we knew this would be a challenging year for NHS trusts given COVID and operational pressures, so anticipated there would be a slow-down. That said, trusts have continued to accredit and we acknowledge their outstanding efforts; thankyou.
“We know it won’t get any easier over the next year or so for NHS staff, but I know the Armed Forces community is grateful for their dedication and appreciates the challenges that staff are up against.
“When the team developed the VCHA programme, we remained resolute that by improving care for the Armed Forces community would also raise standards of healthcare for all NHS users.
“I also know that care for the Armed Forces community does improve within VCHA accredited trusts as demonstrated with continuing good patient feedback and stories.”