Members of the Armed Forces Community living across Shropshire and the surrounding areas are set for a strengthened approach towards their care with the accreditation of the community trust as Veteran Aware.
Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust joins the already accredited The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (RJAH) and The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SATH) in meeting Veteran Aware standards laid down by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), a national NHS team.
The three trusts believe that their close relationship can only improve health outcomes.
The VCHA’s aim is to make sure that patients from the Armed Forces Community, including families and children, 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 Integrated Care Boards, 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.
SCHT’s accreditation means that 145 NHS providers across England are now Veteran Aware accredited, and the alliance aims to have all Trusts in England accredited by the end of the first quarter of 2024.
The Trust serves a population of around half a million from more than 100 sites and provides a range of community based health services for adults and children in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and some services to people in surrounding areas, including district nursing and health visiting to physiotherapy and specialist community clinics. It serves an Armed Forces community made up of some 22,913 veterans, 54,991 families and a serving community of 2,970 regulars and 350 reserves, which is about 16% of the total population.
SCHT’s accreditation has been driven by Maggie Durrant RRC, Head of PMO & EECL Vaccination Service, a retired Lt Col from Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, completed service as Commanding Officer of the Army Medical Service’s ‘Medical Operational Support Group’ and former 2nd in Command of 202 (Mids) Field Hospital (now 202 Multi role Medical Regiment (MMR)), the unit having a training and administration base in Shrewsbury.
Maggie said: “As Shropcom’s Armed Forces Lead, and me now a Veteran, this accreditation is positive testament to the forward-leaning approach taken by our Armed Forces Covenant Network Group in driving improvement activities, as pledged when the Trust signed up to the AFC in Dec 2022. We have lots more we intend to do and will be continually striving to further improve in all we do for our Armed Forces community.”
SCHT’s Chief Executive Officer, Patricia Davies said: “We are delighted and extremely proud to receive Veteran Aware accreditation in recognition of the focus, motivation, and determination of our staff to support our Armed Forces community. Raising awareness of military related health conditions, specific circumstances, or differences in accessing our services, ensuring this community are not disadvantaged and do receive the best possible care and treatment are important to us. Receiving this accreditation will enhance our motivation to keep improving still further.”
David Wood, Regional Lead for the VCHA, said: “Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust’s journey to become Veteran Aware has been well planned, incrementally executed and implemented with an established foundation from its outset and I’m thoroughly delighted with the excellence of the work carried out. 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 70% 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.”
The VCHA will be holding a national best practice conference at the Barbican in London on September 20, 2023 from 10am to 4pm. For more details please go to our Eventbrite page on https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/veterans-covenant-healthcare-alliance-national-best-practice-conference-tickets-574481980067.