14 May 2019, 6:42 a.m.

We have been named a Veteran Aware hospitals trust in recognition of our commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the armed forces and their families.

The accreditation from the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA), acknowledges our commitment to a number of key pledges, including:

  • 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;
  • Training relevant staff on veteran specific culture or needs;
  • Making veterans, reservists and service families aware of appropriate charities or NHS services beneficial to them, such as mental health services or support with financial and/or benefit claims;
  • Supporting the armed forces as an employer.

We run Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals and is now one of only 33 members of the VCHA and are part of the second wave of hospital trusts to be accredited.

Director of Quality and Chief Nurse and Executive Lead for Armed Forces Covenant at Gloucestershire Hospitals Steve Hams, says

“We are delighted to have been awarded the accreditation and to be acknowledged for all the improvements we have made over the last twelve months for former and serving military personnel and their families, as part of our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant.

“We have met the eight standards required to become accredited thanks to the support from our staff, many of whom are either a veteran, a reservist or are a family member of someone serving in the armed forces.

“Veteran Aware posters are being displayed in public waiting areas and we are urging anyone who has served in the armed forces to make themselves known to our staff”.

The Accreditation comes as we make the final arrangements in preparation for the Armed Forces Day Picnic in the Park on Sunday 30th June where, with the support of the Ministry of Defense, we are working with 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucestershire Care Services and Gloucestershire County Council to celebrate Armed Forces Day. With representation and activities from local military organisations and charities as well as our local fire service, the event promises to be a fun afternoon for all the family with fairground rides and lots of stalls; as well as being an opportunity to celebrate the accreditation.

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 England and NHS Improvement, service charities and the Ministry of Defence and is managed by the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme.

Professor Briggs, Chair of GIRFT and NHS National Director for Clinical Improvement and co-chair of the VCHA, said: “These trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made to the servicemen and women of this country. Welcoming them into the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance is a major step towards our aim of ensuring every NHS trust in the country is Veteran Aware.”

General Lord Richard Dannatt, Patron of the VCHA and former head of the British Army, said: “I am delighted that a second wave of our top hospitals has joined the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance. Although the British Armed Forces are not currently engaged in high profile campaigns such as in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, the health and wellbeing battles for many veterans continue. The VCHA is playing a major part in helping our brave veterans win their personal battles.”