NHS providers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have been accredited as exemplars of the best care for veterans, helping to drive improvements in NHS care for people who serve or have served in the UK armed forces and their families.
As part of the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), Veteran Aware Trusts volunteer to drive improvements in veteran care in line with the Armed Forces Covenant to ensure members of the armed forces community do not face disadvantage when accessing NHS services.
This mark of distinction means that those patients will be cared for by frontline staff who have received training and education on their specific needs, such as around mental health, and who can signpost them to relevant local support services. Trained staff will also provide leaflets and posters to veterans and their families explaining what to expect.
Dr Lara Alloway, Interim Chief Medical Officer for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said: “I’m delighted to see we are leading the way in veteran care for the Armed Forces community and their families in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. There are fantastic examples of health and care staff going above and beyond to support our Armed Forces community across the Integrated Care System and I’m incredibly proud.”
Among the 22 Veteran Aware Trusts in the South East region, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) was named a Veteran Aware Trust in October 2021 and holds the Gold Award for the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.
To demonstrate its commitment, SCAS works closely with the Step into Health programme and the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) which provides a dedicated pathway for the Armed Forces community into a career in the NHS. Over the years SCAS has supported people to settle into roles across the organisation, including front line operations, corporate functions, the clinical co-ordination centre and the patient transport service.
There are also 55 members of staff who make up the organisation’s Military Champion Network, offering advice and support as well as sharing good practice.
John Black, a British Army Veteran, Chief Medical Officer and Armed Forces Champion at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are incredibly proud to be a ‘Veteran Aware Trust’, supporting veterans, reservists, members of the Armed Forces and their families. The accreditation reinforces the key working relationships that SCAS has with the armed forces as both colleagues and service users.
“We are immensely proud to have a number of staff who are linked to the armed forces working across many different areas within the Trust including: frontline operational roles, corporate functions, patient transport service, our 111 and 999 clinical co-ordination centres and within our volunteering teams too.”
Patients who serve or have served in the Armed Forces and their families are asked to let a member of staff know when attending hospital so that the team can best support their care needs. By recording a patient as veteran in their health care record, trained healthcare staff will help to ensure they are able to access specific veteran’s health services.
Notes to editor:
- The Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) is a group of NHS providers, including acute, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts that have agreed to be exemplars of the best care for, and support to, the armed forces’ community.
- The NHS in England is committed to raising standards among healthcare providers of Veterans’ services. The main document related to this is the Armed Forces Covenant, which is enshrined in law through the Armed Forces Act. The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation to ensure that those who serve, or who have served, in the Armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. The aim is to develop, share and drive the implementation of best practice that will improve armed forces veterans’ care, while at the same time raising standards for everyone across the NHS.
- Within NHS England, 138 Trusts are Veteran Aware accredited (66 per cent). The South East has 22 Veteran Aware accredited Trusts (76 per cent). NHS Trusts in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight that are Veteran Aware accredited include:
- Isle of Wight NHS Trust
- Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust
- Solent NHS Trust
- South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
- Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
- The population of the South East stands at 7,554,580, with the veteran population standing at 317,082 (4.2 per cent) of the general population.
- A Veteran Aware provider will:
- provide leaflets and posters to veterans and their families explaining what to expect
- train relevant staff to be aware of veterans’ needs and the commitments of the NHS under the Armed Forces Covenant
- inform staff if a veteran or their GP has told the hospital they have served in the armed forces
- ensure that members of the armed forces community do not face disadvantage compared to other citizens when accessing NHS services
- signpost to extra services that might be provided to the armed forces community by a charity or service organisation in the trust
- look into what services are available in their locality, which patients would benefit from being referred to
- Members of the Armed Forces community can get in contact with SCAS for an informal chat about how they might be able to support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To request further details, please contact the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board’s communications team by emailing email@example.com.