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Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 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.

veteran aware 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, 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

The Trust is now one of a growing number of NHS Trusts gaining this accolade from the VC HA.

Lisa Cheek, Chief Nurse at the Trust and Executive Lead for Armed Forces, said: “I am really proud that the organisation has achieved this important accreditation, and it’s thanks to the good work that has been going on that we have been recognised in this way.

“We have recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant which is a promise to ensure that those who serve, or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. This is both in terms of receiving care by the NHS, or applying to work for the NHS.

“We are holding an event in September to give our staff and patients the opportunity to come together to celebrate this success, and I’m looking forward to seeing further developments from the Trust as we work towards embedding the pledges we have made to the armed forces.”

Trusts recognised as Veteran Aware will display posters in their clinics and public waiting areas urging anyone who has served in the armed forces to make themselves known to staff.

The VC HA 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[1] 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.

Professor Briggs, 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 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.”

General Lord Richard Dannatt, Patron of the VC HA and former head of the British Army, said: “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. “