04 August 2021

East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) 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 accreditation, from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), 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 and 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

ELFT is now one of 83 members of the VCHA and is part of a growing number of NHS Trusts gaining this accolade.

“It has been a real pleasure to work with all our partners especially those for the armed forces community to gain our Veteran Aware Trust status,” said Jane Kelly, ELFT Clinical Lead for Veterans.

“We have achieved the standards required by ensuring that the veterans’ voice remained central to all the decisions we made and taking this inclusive approach forward in the veterans’ triple aim project. I absolutely enjoy this workstream and feel honoured to continue to take it forward and improve the lives of those who have served.”

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

“For most veterans, the transition from a life in the forces to one on ‘civvy street’ is fairly straightforward,” said John Phillips, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire coordinator for Project Nova, a charity initiative run in partnership with RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity and Walking With The Wounded, designed to offer tailored support to veterans who find themselves at risk of offending, so they can get their lives back on track.

“Sadly, for some, this journey is more difficult, with a small number facing challenges such as housing, debt, drugs and alcohol addiction, or physical and mental health issues.

“Finding sustainable and meaningful support for veterans can be key in helping them lead a meaningful and law-abiding life, so we are delighted to have been able to offer our support to ELFT so they can encourage more ex-servicemen and women to declare their experiences to GPs, as well as help them find careers in the NHS.”

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 Chavasse Report[1] on improving Armed Forces and veteran care while raising NHS standards which recommended establishing a support network of Trusts. The resulting VCHA works closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement, service charities and the Ministry of Defence.

“These Trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made to the servicemen 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.” - Professor Briggs, NHS National Director for Clinical Improvement and co-chair of the VCHA

“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.” - General Lord Richard Dannatt, Patron of the VCHA and former head of the British Army

We are also really keen to hear from current ELFT staff that are Veterans and would like you to join our growing number of Veterans employed by ELFT to ensure that your voice is heard and you can contribute to the ongoing developments from the Veterans Alliance Group.

Please contact Jane.kelly10@nhs.net


[1] http://www.thechavassereport.com/