Looking after our veterans is important, that is why I am so pleased that one of our local hospital trusts is part of the first 25 NHS Trusts which has been accredited as exemplars of the best care for veterans, helping to ensure those who serve or have served in the UK armed forces and their families receive the best care.
The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which manages Good hope, Q.E Hospital, Heartlands and Solihull Hospital has committed to becoming 'veteran aware'. This means they have committed to:
- Providing leaflets and posters to veterans and their families to explain what to expect.
- Train staff to be aware of veterans' needs and the commitments of the NHS under the Armed Forces Covenant
- Inform staff if a veteran or their GP has told the hospital that they have served in the armed forces.
- Ensure the armed forces community does not face disadvantages compared to other citizens when seeking NHS services.
- Signpost veterans and serving members to other organisations, services and charities which may help support them both during and after their hospital stay.
It is hoped that by training frontline NHS staff to better recognise the needs of veterans and their families, more veterans will feel confident in using NHS services, particularly with mental health conditions which have been recognised once a member of the armed forces has moved back to 'civvy street' such as PTSD, combat stress and substance abuse.
I am really pleased that the NHS teams in the Midlands are leading the way in being veteran aware, ensuring that the NHS continues to support those who have given so much to our country through the armed forces. I know other hospital trusts which serve patients in our area are now working towards the goal. The aim is to end the in inequality in services for veterans and their families.
The NHS aims to have a further 75 hospital trusts fully accredited by the end of 2019.