Queen's representative recognises NHS mental health trust for public commitment to forces veterans
Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson, has presented Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) with its Veteran Aware accreditation in recognition of its commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the armed forces and their families.
A socially distanced guest list of 25, including armed forces veterans and active reservists, came together at The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds on Monday 26 July to see Chief Executive Dr Sara Munro and Chair Professor Sue Proctor accept the prestigious accreditation on behalf of the Trust. Gathering in The Oriental Gallery were teams from the two specialist Veterans’ Mental Health Services, the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance and Councillor Caroline Gruen, a Leeds City Council Armed Forces Champion.
LYPFT’s Veteran Aware accreditation, announced in June during Armed Forces Week 2021, comes from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA). It 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, and
- Supporting the armed forces as an employer
LYPFT is now one of 75 members of the VCHA and is part of a growing number of NHS Trusts gaining this accolade.
Dr Sara Munro, Chief Executive, said: “It is hugely rewarding to receive national recognition of the hard work that LYPFT and its staff are doing to better serve the needs of the armed forces and veterans, and their families, within our community.
“We are so proud of the commitment we have made to our brilliant staff, who deliver the services, recognising the skill sets and experiences that our ex-forces staff bring to the Trust and we have recently pledged to work with Step into Health and the Forces Families Federations to actively recruit more and much needed staff.”
Craig Douglass was one of the guests enjoying the presentation and works as a Peer Support Coordinator with the Veterans Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (VMH CTS) across the north of England. Craig served for 28 years with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and saw active service in Bosnia and Iraq.
“I joined the VMH CTS as I have had very positive experiences with both Combat Stress and the NHS with regards to my own mental health and subsequent therapy. I wanted to both ‘put something back’ and support those in a similar situation to myself. My role has had some very positive effects on my own mental health.
“The Trust is rapidly rolling out training for our clinical mental health teams and support staff right across the Trust to enable them to be more veteran aware – this will help better meet the needs of veterans in our care, whichever service they receive treatment from. The accreditation demonstrates that we are really committed to helping veterans and highlights the great work we are doing. It’s good to have this event today so that we can be publicly recognised in this way. I talk to veterans directly as part of my peer support role in group sessions and 121s and we’re getting encouraging feedback that the new services really are helping them.
“The other key part of the accreditation is to attract more veterans to join the NHS. There are all sorts of roles where they can really make a difference. Again, the ‘Veteran Aware’ mark helps to inform job seekers that we go further than most to employ veterans and that we are able to provide a supportive environment when they join us. We hope to attract people who might not naturally look at the NHS as a career option – maybe even because they’ve had a challenging personal experience in the past. For me personally, it feels great to be working with such a close-knit team.”
Andy Gleadall, a veteran with active service in the Royal Corps of Signals started working for the Trust back in 2013 as an ICT Network Support Manager. He was proud to be supporting colleagues at the event and added:
“I was honoured to have been involved in the technical aspects of standing up both Veterans’ Services, as it is clearly something that resonates close to my heart. It is hoped that the team and I continue to contribute positively to both services enabling the delivery of critical mental health care to some of the bravest individuals I’ve had the fortune to serve amongst.
“The Trust receiving the Veteran Aware accreditation is testament to the continued dedication and effort of the staff members within the Veterans’ Services. They have demonstrated a thorough understanding of the veteran’s needs and are able to support them in this critical chapter of their life. The staff and the Trust should be very proud of achieving the criteria for the accreditation and long may they continue to support the veteran community.”
Over the last three years the Trust, working with its partners, has successfully launched two dedicated mental health services for former armed forces personnel spanning the north of England. They include the Veterans’ Complex Treatment Service launched in 2018, and the High Intensity Service launched in 2020.
These services, which have already helped hundreds of veterans, are part of Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, which also includes the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service.
Find out about Op COURAGE on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/opcourage.
Watch our short film recorded at the event: