Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust (CCS) has been accredited as Veteran Aware, recognising their extensive community-focussed offer.
The Cambridgeshire area contains a large Armed Forces community made up of around 142,600 veterans, 342,290 Armed Forces families as well as 12,930 serving members. This amounts to about 15 per cent of the region’s population.
The Trust provides an extensive portfolio of community-based services to people in Cambridgeshire, Bedford, Luton, Milton Keynes, Norfolk, Peterborough and Suffolk and it met standards laid down by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), a national NHS quality improvement programme.
The VCHA’s 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.
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.
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.
VCHA Regional Lead David Wood said: “CCS has worked hard to develop an all-encompassing programme, which given they are a community provider is all the more challenging.
“Their answer has been the development of a large and varied group of Armed Forces Champions that includes a very healthy mix of clinical and military experience. This provides a template, which they hope to further develop so there is an Armed Forces Champion in every service and location.
“They are also collaborating effectively with other health providers across the East of England, which creates the prospect of an effective Armed Forces offer for the region.
“I’ve been particularly impressed with the group leading on this work. They’ve wanted to understand more about the military community and as their understanding grew, so too did the ambition and desire to forge what is a very strong platform for a community-focused Veteran Aware programme.”
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 76% 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.”
Clare Dinnick, Project Manager for the Veteran Aware Programme for CCS, said: “We’ve been building on policies and procedures already in place to ensure that the healthcare needs of serving personnel, veterans and their families within the CCS geography are identified and met.
“Through collaboration with internal teams, external organisations and neighbouring NHS trusts we have created a joined-up approach to gain a greater understanding of the challenges faced within the armed forces community.
“We’ve refined our recruitment procedure to provide clear pathways for employment opportunities, making sure that we’re attracting members of the armed forces to apply for roles within our Trust and allowing them to utilise their many transferable skills within our workforce.
“I’m really proud to say that CCS is now a veteran aware accredited Trust and I’m looking forward to growing our commitment and support to the armed forces community in the future.”
Dr David Vickers, Medical Director, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust and Veteran Aware Project Sponsor, said: “I’m delighted the Trust has been successfully accredited as veteran aware.
“The accreditation recognises our hard work in demonstrating the Trust’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant and as an exemplar of the best standards of care for the armed forces community.”