Armed Forces Week and Armed Forces Advocates

21 Jun 2022, 4:05 p.m.

This week (20-26 June), we’re celebrating Armed Forces Week, leading up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday 25 June.

This is a chance for everyone to show their support for the people who make up the Armed Forces community; from currently serving troops to Service families, veterans and cadets.

We support the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly. The Armed Forces Covenant is now a Statutory obligation within healthcare and we have recently received funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust as part of the Veterans in an Acute Setting Programme. This programme aims to fund innovative projects within hospitals that could lead to significant change in how members of the Armed Forces community are documented, supported and have their care co-ordinated within acute hospital settings.

We are delighted to have appointed Mark Gibbs as Lead Armed Forces Advocate and Jamie Ashton as Armed Forces Advocate, both of whom report in to Natalie Bynorth as Operational Lead for Armed Forces and Chief Nurse Matt Holdaway as Executive Lead.

Mark Gibbs enlisted into the British Army in 1993, joining the Coldstream Guards. He served for 23 years, reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class II. During his time with the Guards, Mark served on operations in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. When he retired from the Army, Mark joined the Trust as a Health Care Assistant on Ward 2a before enrolling onto the Trainee Nursing Associate programme in 2019. He registered as a Nursing Associate in 2019.

Mark said: "I wanted to undertake a role that could make the patient experience for members of the Armed Forces community better. The Lead Armed Forces Advocate role will allow me to do this and I am proud to be part of this exciting period within the Trust."

Jamie Ashton spent 10 years in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Combat Medical Technician, which included two tours of Afghanistan, and time spent working with other NATO Forces.

Jamie says: "I am very passionate about supporting veterans as it’s a subject I hold quite close to my heart. My main objective is to support veterans in and around both our hospitals, as well as helping our staff to understand what services we are able to provide to our Veterans."

Many Armed Forces veterans have few or no local next of kin and, as such, they may become particularly isolated when unwell and facing hospital admissions. Our new Armed Forces Advocates aim to provide the right support that recognises the particular needs of this important patient group. It is hoped that these posts will not only enhance Patient Experience but also lead to greater to equality of outcomes for the Armed Forces Community. Veterans receiving inpatient physical care, both now and in future, will benefit, together with the increased staff awareness of veterans’ needs when in acute care across the UK.

Mark and Jamie will also contribute to the training and understanding of staff in this area, as well as forging external relationships that may help our ward teams in areas such as discharge in the future. Mark and Jamie will be attending the Gloucester City Armed Forces Day Parade and Family Day on Saturday 25 June from 12:30 pm at Gloucester Docks - details here: https://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/event/gloucester-city-armed-forces-day/ and on Facebook. Please do come along and show your support for the Armed Forces Community – everyone is welcome.

As well as supporting colleagues who are part of the volunteer reserve forces, we are proud to have been revalidated for the prestigious Gold award as part of the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) 2020, as one of only 14 NHS trusts in the country to receive the gold award. The ERS encourages employers to support defence personnel and inspire others to do the same.

We also have many staff working in our hospitals who have previously been members of the Armed Forces, have partners in the Armed Forces, or serve as Reservists. They are best placed to understand the difficulties these patients and their families experience, and the healthcare challenges they face. We are proud to be a Veteran Aware Trust, accredited to the Veterans Covenant Hospitals Alliance

Read more about the Armed Forces Covenant

You can read more about Mark and Jamie on our website

"I wanted to undertake a role that could make the patient experience for members of the Armed Forces community better. The Lead Armed Forces Advocate role will allow me to do this and I am proud to be part of this exciting period within the Trust."

Mark Gibbs, Lead Armed Forces Advocate
BEST CARE FOR EVERYONE