As the nation marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital has become one of the 24 acute hospital trusts in the country to be accredited as a Veteran Aware hospital.
Hospitals accredited by the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA) will 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.
The Trust will display posters in clinics and public waiting areas urging anyone who has served in the armed forces to make themselves known to staff.
The RD&E already has significant links with the armed forces and has previously pledged support by signing the Armed Forces covenant.
Dave Thomas, Deputy Chief Nurse at the RD&E and a Lieutenant Colonel with the Army Reserve, said: “We are really pleased to have gained recognition as a Veteran Aware Hospital. Over the last 3 years we have worked hard to ensure we acknowledge the part that our armed forces and veterans play in our society and nation. This isn’t the end for us, but rather recognition of the journey we are on to fulfil our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.”
Suzanne Tracey, Chief Executive at the RD&E said: “We are delighted to be accredited as one of the first Veteran Aware Hospitals in the country and look forward to continuing our valued partnership with the armed forces further.”
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.