Improving care for members of armed forces

A THEATRE nurse who is in the reserve forces has backed a trust’s commitment to improving care for members of the armed forces.

Mark Saunders, a surgical assistant practitioner at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, is supporting the trust’s involvement in the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance.

The national alliance has been formed to reduce disadvantages to members of the armed forces past and present, by giving appropriate priority for any service related condition.

Mark has been involved in the reserve forces for more than 20 years, serving as an officer commanding operating theatres and sterilisation services in the 201 Field Hospital, who have barracks in Norton.

He said: “I remember joining up to the reserves – I was working at James Cook at the time and was looking at doing something where I could develop my skills to take with me back into healthcare.

“The last 23 years have been an extremely valuable experience. I was deployed to Iraq in 2003, to Afghanistan in 2007 and again five years later.

“Then three years ago I was sent on a different kind of mission – working in Sierra Leone to help people affected by the Ebola outbreak.

“I’ve learned so many new skills and knowledge which I have been able to put into helping improve patient care at the trust. I’ve also developed my leadership and problem solving skills and my ability to deal with a situation in a calm and rational way.

“The Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance will help members of the armed forces needing treatment directly related to injuries received on active service, those who have a medical problem directly related to past service and those who have a medical problem not related to past service.

“It will form part of the trust’s efforts to promote the concept, included in the Armed Forces Covenant, that military service should not disadvantage those serving or their families and that the nation should address the debt it owes to those who serve.”

The trust is one of 30 beacon sites across the country to be part of an alliance to improve care for members of the armed forces.

This access is subject to clinical need and veterans are not given priority of referral or treatment ahead of individuals who are in greater clinical need.

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