Trust recognised for improving care for the Armed Forces community
Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) 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.
- 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
LYPFT is now one of 75 members of the VCHA and is part of a growing number of NHS Trusts gaining this accolade. A formal presentation will be made to the Trust by Ed Anderson, The Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, on Monday 26 July 2021.
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; the Veterans’ Complex Treatment Service in 2018 and the High Intensity Service in 2020.
These services, which have already helped hundreds of veterans, are part of OpCOURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, which also includes the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service. Find out about OpCourage nationally on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/opcourage.
Major Dan Brooks, an Army Reserve Officer in the Fourth Battalion of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, is also the Implementation Manager for the Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service in the North of England. He said: “It is fantastic news that we have been recognised with this accreditation for the great work our teams do to ensure veterans are receiving the best possible care.
“Our Trust has a strong track record of delivering veterans’ mental health services and this accreditation will highlight to any veterans who are accessing our services that we are able to provide them with the support they need.”
“Around 18,000 people leave the UK armed forces every year. By simply asking if they have ever served in the UK armed forces, we could make a world of difference in helping them access employment opportunities or health care for example.”
“My ambition for the Trust is for us to now look towards accreditation on the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme to improve the retention of staff who’ve served.”
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 VCHA 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 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 CBE, 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 GCB CBE MC, Patron of the VCHA 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.”
The Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA) is a group of NHS acute hospitals which have volunteered to be exemplars of the best care for veterans and help to drive improvements in NHS care for people who serve or have served in the UK armed forces and their families.
The VCHA will also link hospitals to the Armed Forces charities, which provide rehabilitation services and resources for veterans. When fully utilised, these services will enhance the recovery pathway for veterans in NHS hospitals. It will also help deliver NHS England and NHS Improvement’s objectives to highlight unwarranted clinical variation in hospital quality and efficiency.
The NHS is committed to the Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the UK Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly. The Armed Forces Covenant has two key principles:
- The Armed Forces community should not face disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.
- Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved. The NHS always prioritises people with the most urgent clinical need first, but after that should ensure that armed forces service related injuries receive timely treatment
There were an estimated 2.4 million military veterans in Great Britain in 2017, making up between 3% and 9% of the population (depending on the area). Find more information on this from the Office for Veterans’ Affairs latest factsheet.
40.1% of veterans report at least one long-term health condition. The most prevalent issues reported among veterans are musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and mental health conditions.
In addition to their work for veterans, reservists and forces families as patients, Veteran Aware Trusts are working with the existing initiatives Step into Health and the Employer Recognition Scheme to ensure that NHS organisations are ‘forces friendly’ employers.
OpCOURAGE – how this service supports veterans’ mental health
Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service is the new name for the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS). The new name has been developed following feedback from veterans and their families to make it easier for those leaving the military and veterans to find help.
The service offers a range of treatment, which includes:
- working with Defence Medical Services to make sure veterans get mental health care and support as they transition from the military to civilian life
- recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing care and treatment for this
- therapeutic treatment for more advanced mental health conditions and psychological trauma
- intensive emergency care and treatment if they are in a crisis
- helping to access other NHS services if needed, such as ‘Improving access to psychological therapies’ (IAPT) and eating disorder services
- working with charities and local organisations to support veterans with wider health and wellbeing needs, such as housing, relationships, finances, employment, drug and alcohol misuse and social support.
For more information, visit the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/opcourage