VCHA rehab pilot gets underway

The VCHA’s best practice pilot model for veterans in rehabilitation services started this week – 2 Oct 2023.   Based upon the recommendations from last year’s Rehab report, the model will be piloted at four sites over the next six months.

The four NHS England trusts are: The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust; Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust; Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Swindon; and University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust.  These were chosen due to the current high standard of rehab provided within each trust,  the scale of the local veteran population, and the strength of the veteran aware work in each trust.

The model will include signposting to any relevant NHS services and charities that can help support patients throughout their rehab journey and promote self-management of their condition in the  longer term.

The Armed Forces Community can access this information through a patient resource pack, either via scanning a QR code on our poster, or our website. The resource pack also contains a values-based goal-setting sheet to help establish appropriate SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound) goals for veterans. The VCHA programme intends incorporating a rehab standard into the Veteran Aware accreditation process.

Physio and Rehab Lead, Linus Cosgrove said: “This is a really exciting time as it means we will now start seeing our recommendations being put into practice, potentially helping more of the Armed Forces Community and the wider NHS population.

“We know that the most common reason for medical discharge from the Armed Forces is related to musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries. We also know there is significant unwarranted variation and disadvantage in the diagnosis, treatment and rehab services for veterans with MSK disorders. We believe that through this work we will have one consistent standard for MSK rehabilitation services across England based on best practice. The pilot will be completed by March 2024 when we should have all NHS trusts accredited as Veteran Aware.”

The Veterans Rehabilitation Project was set up in 2021 to undertake a review of musculoskeletal (MSK) rehabilitation services currently available to veterans across England.

Its aim was to identify gaps and variations in provision, highlight best practice, and develop recommendations for improvement.

VCHA Chairman, Prof Tim Briggs CBE, said: “I am personally heartened to see this model being tested. It starts to answer the hope I outlined in the Chavasse report I wrote back in 2014. The report called for improved and greater continuity of care for those people severely wounded or injured during their service.

“What I want to see now is reliable access to high quality and timely musculoskeletal care for our veterans.   I firmly believe that this approach will improve care for our veterans, whilst at the same time raising standards in the NHS for all.”

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