North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust has become one of the latest NHS trusts to be accredited as Veteran Aware, formally recognising their commitment to the Armed Forces community.
The Trust is an integrated care organisation, working with partners and the wider community to join up health and care for patients.
It provides hospital and community health services to half a million people and is responsible for delivering more than 70 services across 15 locations.
According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, nearly 21,000 people have either served in the regulars or the reserves in Cumbria, out of a total population of nearly 500,000.
Its connections to the Armed Forces include 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment at Carlisle and RAF Spadeadam.
Accreditation was carried out by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), which is a group of NHS healthcare providers in England.
The VCHA’s aim is to develop, share and drive the implementation of best practice that will improve armed forces veterans’ care, while at the same time raising standards for everyone based on 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.
The accreditation of North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust means that 138 NHS providers across England are now Veteran Aware accredited, and the alliance aims to have all Trusts accredited by the end of 2023.
VCHA Regional Lead Mandy Stokes said: “I am delighted with the work being carried out by North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust in achieving this accreditation award. The Trust has demonstrated its commitment to being Veteran Aware for both patients and staff and in building this into its wider Trust business to make sure that staff understand the needs of the armed forces community.”
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 66% 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.”
Teresa Griffiths, Non-Executive Director and chair of the Armed Forces Working Group at NCIC, said: “I am delighted that the Trust has received its veteran aware accreditation.
“We want to ensure that patients from our armed forces community in Cumbria receive the care and support that they need and are not inappropriately disadvantaged because of their service.”
“The Trust’s new Armed Forces Working Group also wants NCIC to be an Armed Forces friendly employer – recognising the unique skills and experience of transitioning military staff while supporting those in the organisation who hold reservist roles.”
The VCHA programme is also now piloting the Veteran Aware accreditation of both the independent sector and hospices.