As the nation marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has been accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’ today (Friday 9 November).
This mark of distinction means that patients who have served in the UK armed forces will be cared for by frontline staff who have received training and education on their specific needs, such as around mental health, and who can signpost them to local support services.
The trust is one of 24 NHS bodies across the UK that have received accreditation from the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance. The Alliance is made up of national bodies, including NHS Improvement, NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Ministry of Defence, and the Confederation of Service Charities.
Patients and visitors at can expect to see posters that its services are ‘Veteran Aware’, such as in their clinics and public waiting areas, encouraging them to notify staff that they have served in the armed forces. This is to ensure that the armed forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients.
Deputy medical director Chris Tulloch, who is the trust’s clinical champion, said: “We are delighted to be one of the trusts to be accredited as veteran aware – we are committed to supporting patients who have served in the armed forces.
“It 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.”
Professor Tim Briggs, National Director for Clinical Quality and Efficiency at NHS Improvement and Co-Chair of the Veterans Covenant Hospitals Alliance, said: “I applaud for becoming one of the first in the country to be accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’.
“People who have served in the armed forces can often have specific and varied needs and so, we must do everything we can to ensure the NHS continues to support those who have given so much for our country.
“As we mark the Armistice centenary, we are calling on other trusts to lead by this example and apply for their accreditation so that they can guarantee they are doing the exactly same.”
There are around 2.16 million veterans in England, making up between 3 and 9% of the population.