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Northumbria Healthcare awarded Veteran Aware accreditation

Friday, 09 November, 2018
Northumbria Healthcare awarded Veteran Aware accreditation

As the nation marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the NHS is celebrating the first wave of new Veteran Aware hospitals

Northumbria Healthcare is one of the 24 acute hospital trusts accredited by the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA) to lead the way in improving NHS care for veterans and members of the armed forces community by:

  • Providing training to staff to be aware of veterans’ specific needs;
  • Making past and present servicemen and women aware of appropriate charities or NHS services beneficial to them, such as mental health services or support with financial and/or benefit claims;
  • Ensuring that the armed forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients, in line with the NHS’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.

Jim Mackey, chief executive at Northumbria Healthcare, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be accredited as one of the first veteran aware trusts in the country. Every November we rightly remember the sacrifices of those who serve our country in the armed forces but this remembrance must also translate into tangible action to aid those who – as a result of their service – return home with injuries; both seen and unseen.

“Making sure they get the care they need – deserve – is the least we can do.”

Some of the first hospitals to join the alliance already have significant links with the military, while others are getting involved for the first time. Trusts which are accredited as Veteran Aware will display posters in their clinics and public waiting areas urging anyone who has served in the armed forces to make themselves known to staff.

The VCHA was inspired by the heroism of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC, a doctor who gave his life rescuing men on the battlefields of the First World War.

In 2014, leading orthopaedic surgeon Professor Tim Briggs CBE wrote The Chavasse Report on improving armed forces and veteran care while raising NHS standards, which recommended establishing a support network of hospitals. The resulting VCHA works closely with NHS Improvement, NHS England, service charities and the Ministry of Defence.

Professor Briggs, co-chair of the VCHA, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for these 24 hospitals, and it is just the beginning. Every NHS hospital will be invited to join the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance and become Veteran Aware and we hope to have tripled the total number of accredited hospitals by the end of 2019.”

Lieutenant General Martin Bricknell, Surgeon General, added: “The strong partnership between the MoD and the NHS highlights our commitment to the through-life care of our service personnel and veterans. The Veteran Aware scheme is a fantastic initiative that will ensure the particular needs of the Armed Forces community are at the heart of their care.”

Media Contact:

Elliot Nichols – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

0191 203 1512 / 07966490736

Notes to editors:

  • The Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA) is a group of NHS acute hospitals that have volunteered to be exemplars of the best care for veterans and help to drive improvements in NHS care for people who serve or have served in the UK armed forces and their families. The VCHA will also link hospitals to the Armed Forces charities, which provide rehabilitation services and resources for veterans. When fully utilised, these services will enhance the recovery pathway for veterans in NHS hospitals. The Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance provides a mechanism for a group of volunteer trusts to identify and showcase the best standards of care for Armed Forces veterans, in line with commitments set out in the Armed Forces Covenant. It will also help deliver NHS Improvement’s objectives to highlight unwarranted clinical variation in hospital quality and efficiency.

  • The Armed Forces Covenant and the NHS. The NHS is committed to the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the UK Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
    • The Armed Forces Covenant has two key principles:
      • 1. The Armed Forces community should not face disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.
      • 2. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved. Veterans and their families should not be disadvantaged from accessing appropriate health services, for example, if they are on a waiting list and are moving. The NHS always prioritises people with the most urgent clinical need first, but after that should ensure that armed forces service related injuries receive timely treatment.
  • There were an estimated 2.17 million military veterans in England in 2015, making up between 3% and 9% of the population (depending on the area).
  • 1% of veterans report at least one long-term health conditions. The most prevalent issues reported among veterans are musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and mental health conditions.
  • In addition to their work for veterans, reservists and forces families as patients, Veteran Aware hospitals are working with the existing initiatives Step Into Health and the Employer Recognition Scheme to ensure that NHS organisations are ‘forces friendly’ employers.