Practice Plus Group Hospital Plymouth has been recognised for providing focused support and care to the local Armed Forces community and has been awarded with Veteran Aware accreditation.
The award comes just before Armed Forces Week (19 to 24 June) and the hospital are busy making plans to celebrate by holding their own Veteran Aware Day on site.
Veteran Aware accreditation means Practice Plus Group Plymouth has committed to making sure that members of the armed forces community will not be disadvantaged in the care they receive and where possible, receive personalised care to improve patient outcomes in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.
Accreditation was carried out by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), a national NHS team. The VCHA develops, shares and drives the implementation of best practice, while at the same time raising standards for everyone.
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.
Practice Plus Group Plymouth Hospital joins University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and St Luke’s Hospice with this award, which means that care and support provided to the Armed Forces community locally has been reinforced.
Practice Plus Group as a whole has signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, with their other nine hospitals and surgical centres set to follow Plymouth’s lead in due course.
Practice Plus Group Plymouth Medical Director, Andy Burgess, who is a veteran, said: “Having completed a significant number of deployments in the military, particularly the latter Iraq and Afghan ones, I have had a strong desire to make sure care for our military personnel continues after they have left the military. I have also seen the differences in the way we in the UK treat our veterans compared to the likes of the US who bend over backwards to help theirs. Anyone deployed to the likes of Afghanistan is never the same and I include myself in that. Anything I can do to help our veterans deal with life in Civvy Street must be useful.”
The Southwest has one of the highest UK armed forces veteran populations in the UK. In Plymouth, 8.4 per cent of the population aged over 16 years and over have served in the armed forces. The city is home to His Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport, 3 Commando Brigade and Joint Hospital Group (Southwest).
Prof Tim Briggs CBE, VCHA chairman, said: “This was a truly outstanding application from an independent healthcare provider that clearly cares about those who’ve served. It very clearly meets the requirements of the Armed Forces Covenant and our manifesto points and I’m delighted to have them on board. Well done!”
Tony Armstrong, Widening Scope (Projects) Lead, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have worked with Practice Plus Group Plymouth on their application and to be able to announce this ahead of Armed Forces Week. Their ethos is first-class. It is especially heartening in Plymouth as it means we can see Veteran Aware care integrated across the city through organisations representing the very start of life to end of life.”
Practice Plus Group Hospital Plymouth employ a number of veterans and are now training two of them as Health Champions for veterans.
Grace Todd works as a Radiographer at Plymouth Hospital and knows all about the lives of those in the Forces. She has served with the Royal Navy and after having children and getting married, she now supports her husband who is serving in the Royal Navy. Her family are all from a Naval background too.
Grace said: “I know all about the pressures of serving, and being at home when my husband is away. I am really excited to be able to have an input here and be a representative for our Veteran Aware status.”
Another veteran who works at Practice Plus Group Plymouth is James Potter. He is a Physician Associate, works in anaesthesia and is also a Wellbeing Champion at the hospital. James was originally a weapons and bomb disposal specialist in the Military, before he moved into health care.
“I hope, as a veteran suffering with PTSD myself, we are able to use that relative experience to establish bridges with a community that can feel increasingly isolated since the end of the ‘Help for Heroes’ era.”
For more details, you can visit https://veteranaware.nhs.uk/