The mark of distinction means that patients who have served in the UK armed forces will be cared for by frontline staff who have received training and education on their specific needs, such as around mental health, and can signpost them to local support services.
CUH is one of 24 NHS bodies across the UK to receive accreditation from the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance. The Alliance is made up of national bodies, including NHS Improvement, NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Ministry of Defence, and the Confederation of Service Charities.
Patients and visitors can expect to see posters that its services are ‘Veteran Aware’, such as in their clinics and public waiting areas, encouraging them to notify staff that they have served in the armed forces. This is to ensure that the armed forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients.
CUH Chairman, Dr Mike More, said: “The Trust is absolutely delighted to receive this accreditation. It recognises the efforts of our staff to give practical help and understanding support to those who fought for our freedom.”
Professor Tim Briggs, National Director for Clinical Quality and Efficiency at NHS Improvement and Co-Chair of the Veterans Covenant Hospitals Alliance, said: “I applaud CUH for becoming one of the first in the country to be accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’.
“People who have served in the armed forces can often have specific and varied needs and so, we must do everything we can to ensure the NHS continues to support those who have given so much for our country.
“As we mark the Armistice centenary, we are calling on other trusts to lead by this example and apply for their accreditation so that they can guarantee they are doing the exactly same.”
There are around 2.16 million veterans in England, making up between three and nine per cent of the population. In Cambridgeshire, there are around 34,000 veterans and it is estimated that 63 per cent are over 65 due to compulsory national service for men which continued until 1960.
Recognising the qualities and skills of armed forces personnel, CUH has developed a Step into Health programme of initiatives and encourages job applications from veterans. The next Armed Forces Recruitment Insight Day at CUH is planned for 27 November and is open to all current and ex-armed forces personnel.
CUH has an established relationship with 254 Medical Regiment in Cherry Hinton which provides a programme of training for the benefit of CUH clinical staff.
CUH also benefits from hosting SSAFA, the armed forces charity on site. Accessible by self-referral and healthcare professional referral, SSAFA helps serving and former members of the armed forces and their dependants. It provides practical, emotional and financial support delivered by experienced advisors.