Trust praised for ‘exceptional’ work supporting veterans

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) is marking Armed Forces Week (20th – 26th June) by thanking all those who have played a role in protecting the UK both at home and overseas. The Trust is also celebrating the Trust’s reaccreditation as a Veteran Aware Trust by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance, which has praised the ‘exceptional’ work done by the Trust.

CNTW was first accredited as a Veteran Aware Trust by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) in April last year, in recognition of its commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the armed forces and their families. The Trust also signed the Armed Forces Covenant in February 2021, and also holds a Silver Award under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS).

In March this year, the Trust received its one-year Veterans Aware review from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance, which praised “a number of exceptional activities within the Trust to improve the experience of care for the Armed Forces Community.”

David Goldsmith, Associate Nurse Director and Co-Chair of the Armed Forces and Veterans Staff Network at CNTW, said: “Armed Forces Week is an annual opportunity to come together in reflection, recognition and celebration of the service provided by those working in services and the families that support them.

“We have undertaken significant work over the past year to improve standards of care and support for the Armed Forces community, including both our patients and staff, and are proud that this has been recognised by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance.”

Changes made over the past year have included an update to the Trust’s policy to support reservists, granting an additional ten days of paid leave per year to reservists to enable them to attend their annual camp.

In particular, the VCHA national steering group commended the Trust’s efforts to develop a network of Veterans Champions across all service areas, and the creation of training from the OPCourage Transition Intervention and Liaison Service team (one of the Trust’s specialist mental health services for veterans) to educate staff and raise awareness.

And in June last year, the Trust launched its Armed Forces and Veterans Staff Network, to support staff who are part of the reserves or cadets, who have served with the armed forces, and those with family or partners who are currently serving or veterans. The Network has gone from strength to strength and now has 83 members. It aims to ensure the Trust provides sufficient support to staff connected to the Armed Forces. Staff with responsibilities for the Trust’s specialist veterans’ services are also involved.

The Veterans Aware accreditation 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
  • Supporting the armed forces as an employer

CNTW also provides specialist mental health services for former armed services personnel experiencing severe mental health problems. If you, or someone you know, is an armed forces veteran and struggling with their mental health, expert help is available. Speak to your GP or contact the NHS Veterans’ Transition Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) in the first instance on 0303 123 1145 or email vwals@nhs.net.

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