Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust has achieved the prestigious accreditation of ‘Veteran Aware’ which celebrates and recognises employers who actively demonstrate their support to current and former members of the Armed Forces community and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.
The Trust met standards laid down by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), a national NHS team.
The VCHA’s aim is to make sure that patients from the Armed Forces Community, including families and dependents, 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.
The Trust’s accreditation means that 147 NHS providers across England are now Veteran Aware accredited and the alliance aims to have all Trusts accredited by the end of the first quarter of 2024.
The area is a good recruiting ground for the Armed Forces. With a general population in the North West of around of 7.4 million, it’s estimated that nearly 785,000 (10.6 per cent) are from the Armed Forces Community, which includes not just those serving but also families.
The Trust already has links with two local units (75 Engineer Regiment and 208 Field Hospital Med Regiment).
The Trust are linked into the work they are doing to provide mental health and more general support to veterans via their partnership with Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Trust (CWP). New connections and partnerships are actively being sought and this is supported by attending a number of veterans focussed networks locally & regionally.
The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s, Lancashire and Border) recruits heavily from the area.
VCHA Regional Lead Mandy Stokes said: “I am so pleased that the commitment of the Trust to recognise the needs of the armed forces community has been recognised by the successful VCHA accreditation. It has been a pleasure working with the Trust Leads for this work and I look forward to continuing to work with them as the agenda moves forward.”
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.”
Chief Executive Karen Howell said: “We are thrilled to have achieved this fantastic accolade. We are committed to supporting our veterans and the wider Armed Forces Community and ensuring that they are treated fairly and do not face disadvantages.
“Last year we signed the Armed Forces Covenant and since then we have gone from strength to strength, undertaking a variety of work with our clinical services, our Human Resource Department and throughout the Trust. Achieving Veteran Aware status means that we have been recognised for our ongoing efforts and we are able to demonstrate our commitment to the Armed Forces Community.”
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.