Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (SHFT) has been accredited as Veteran Aware, meaning it takes account of the needs of members of the Armed Forces Community.
The Trust provides services through three sites – Kings Mill Hospital, Newark Hospital and Mansfield Community Hospital – to about 500,000 people throughout Mansfield, Ashfield, Newark, Sherwood and some parts of Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. The regional Armed Forces population makes up a substantial amount of this potential patient population with an estimated 115,570 veterans, 9,660 serving population and 277,367 families living in the area.
The accreditation process was overseen by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA).
Its 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.
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.
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.
VCHA Regional Lead David Wood said: “SHFT is clearly committed and resolute in making sure it is Veteran Aware across all areas of its work. This has been helped by the clear direction provided by its leadership team to the extent that this Trust now has Armed Forces in its DNA.
“The value the Veteran Aware framework has brought to SFHT has been considerable and enabled activity to reflect on previous initiatives and individual aspects such as hosting a team of military personnel during Covid-19 to offering funding for veterans who needed hearing accessories.
“Through its efforts to create wider links I am confident the programme being created at SHFT will be comprehensive and enduring and can only be of benefit to the Armed Forces Community in the area for the long-term.”
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 80% 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.”
Medical Director, Dr David Selwyn, is the Trust’s Executive Sponsor for this work.
He said: “With my background in critical care and having had substantial involvement in caring for armed forces personnel in a designated conflict receiving centre and major trauma centre, I genuinely recognise the sacrifice that our armed forces personnel and veterans have made. This is often both physically and mentally. This is why I am committed to this programme of work and why I consider it so important to SFHT and our military community.
It also aligns with TeamSFHT’s strategic objectives, outstanding care given by compassionate people leading to healthier communities.
This also leads the trust into furthering its effort by preparing for our ERS Gold award in 2024. Ensuring that supporting and recognising the importance and value of our military family and that this remains aligned and embedded in our 5-year strategy, will ensure that once we are successfully accredited, we can use this as a stepping stone to actively strengthen and develop our relations with the military community and healthcare providers across the midlands. I see achieving our Veteran Aware accreditation as purely our first step in improving their care and support.”
Dr Kelvin Wright – ICU Consultant – is the Clinical Champion a retired Col and former Commanding Officer of 306 Hospital Support Regiment, who said: “As a recently retired Commanding Officer of five years with two operational tours, the way the nation views our armed forces is very important to me. Our Soldiers, Sailors and Aircrew put themselves in harm’s way in order to defend the nation. That nation then owes them a debt of gratitude, which must be continued into civilian life.
“Service personnel who are injured have the right to expect the same high level of care in the NHS that they received in the military. This may be care for physical injuries or psychological injuries. Rehabilitation and returning to their maximal potential has to be paramount. We must ensure that clinical services can deliver this to them when they enter the NHS system.
“The veterans work shows a huge institutional commitment and recognises the value of these individuals.”