As the nation marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, South Tees Hospitals 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 mental health, and who can signpost them to local support services.
The trust is one of 24 NHS bodies across the UK that has 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 the trust 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.
Colonel Dougie Bryant, consultant head and neck surgeon at South Tees and army veteran, said; “Having served in the regular army for 36 years and as a father of a serving officer, I am acutely aware of the issues applying to serving and veteran service men and women. I welcome this award with pride: the pride I hold for the Service and for this NHS trust, which we hope will become a national exemplar.”
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 South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 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 three and nine per cent of the population. In North Yorkshire and the wider Teesside and South Durham area, there are a significant number of veterans and the trust serves a local population that includes Britain’s biggest army base at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.
There are approximately 120 doctors, nurses and other medical staff who work for the trust, caring for patients, who are either regular serving military personnel or reservists. The trust also has a number of veterans who work in both clinical and non-clinical positions.