North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS 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 Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) is a group of NHS healthcare providers in England who are committed to providing the best standards of care for the armed forces, past, present and their families in England 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 VCHA aim is to develop, share and drive the implementation of best practice that will improve care for the military community, while at the same time raising standards for everyone.
North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust is a leading provider of mental health, social care, learning disability, substance misuse and primary care services in the West Midlands. It is one of only two specialist mental health trusts in the NHS to be rated overall as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.
It currently works from both hospital and community-based premises, operating from about 30 sites to about 464,000 people of all ages and diverse backgrounds in Stoke-on-Trent and across North Staffordshire.
The accreditation of North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust means that 136 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 David Wood said: “Working with North Staffordshire Combined has been a real pleasure as their collective commitment has been exceptional and I am so pleased that all their hard work has been recognised with accreditation.
“With an estimated population of 150,000 of serving personnel, veterans and families living within the area with a connection to the UK’s armed forces, this is quite a sizable number so the scale of the need is clear.”
The Armed Forces (AF) community is made up of 44,000 veterans, 105,000 families and a serving contingent of 1770 regulars, 270 Reservists and a number of Cadet units. The percentage of AF in the population is estimated as 6-8%.
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 65% 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.”
Ben Richards, Executive Director of Operations and the Trust Board lead for Veterans said ” We want to ensure that veterans are able to access the healthcare that they need and so we’re delighted to have been given this special accreditation which is a credit to all of those members of the Combined team who have worked hard to ensure we are able to meet the specific needs of veterans and their families.
Our work in continuing to support both staff and patients who’ve been members of the armed forces is the best way of saying ‘thank you’ to those who have those who have dedicated themselves to serving our country.”
The VCHA programme is also now piloting the Veteran Aware accreditation of both the independent sector and hospices.