Local NHS Trust, Southern Health has been named a ‘Veteran Aware Trust’ in recognition of its commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the armed forces and their families. The timely announcement comes during a week when the country joins together to pay tribute to those that have lost their lives as a result of conflict or terrorism and to support veterans and their families.
The accreditation, from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VC HA), acknowledges the Trust’s commitment to a number of key pledges, including:
- Ensuring that the armed forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients
- Training relevant staff on veteran specific needs
- Making veterans, reservists and service families aware of beneficial services, such as mental health services or support with financial/benefit claims
- Supporting the armed forces as an employer.
Southern Health is one of a growing number of NHS trusts to gain the accolade and will display posters in its units, clinics and public waiting areas urging anyone who has served in the armed forces to make themselves known to staff. Professor Briggs, NHS National Director for Clinical Improvement and co-chair of the VC HA, said: “These trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made to the service men 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.”
Sara Courtney, Southern Health’s Deputy Director of Nursing and Clinical Lead for the Veteran’s Accreditation Programme - and herself a veteran having served in the Royal Navy before joining the NHS – explained what this means to the Trust: “We are so very proud to have achieved Veteran Aware status. With a large number of military bases across the county, it is key that we provide the very best care possible for veterans and their families whilst also supporting the recruitment and retention of veterans, military families and reservists. This accreditation recognises our Trust’s commitment to ensure veterans in Hampshire are fully supported by their local NHS healthcare services and is testament to the hard work and dedication shown by our staff, many of whom are veterans themselves, in achieving this.”
Sara Courtney, along with two other veteran members of Southern Health staff - Jennifer Rooker and Bob Beeching - have been selected to join a select group of NHS Veterans in this year’s Cenotaph March Past in London.