Health bosses in Sunderland are celebrating being recognised as having one of the first ‘Veteran Aware’ hospitals ahead of the Armistice Centenary.
This mark of distinction means patients who have served in the UK armed forces will be cared for by 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.
Last year, City Hospitals Sunderland received the Armed Forces Covenant Gold Employer Recognition Award which was presented to chief executive, Ken Bremner, by Prince Harry.
Now, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is one of 24 accredited by the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA) to lead the way in improving NHS care for veterans and members of the armed forces community.
They will do this by providing training to staff to be aware of veterans’ specific needs, making past and present servicemen and women aware of appropriate charities or NHS services beneficial to them and ensuring the armed forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients.
Sunderland health trust’s deputy director of nursing and Veteran Aware lead, Julie McDonald, said: “It is an absolute honour to be chosen by the VCHA to be part of the first wave of Veteran Aware hospitals to further improve NHS care for veterans and members of the armed forces community.
It is an absolute honour to be chosenJulie McDonald
“Through our involvement, we look forward to making a real difference to many lives.”
Kath Griffin, the trust’s executive lead for the work with the armed forces, added: “It is very important to City Hospitals Sunderland and our partner South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust that we support defence and the armed forces community and inspire others to do the same.
“Both Trusts have signed the Government’s Armed Forces Covenant, which represents a promise that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly.
“Sunderland is the holder of the Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award – the Ministry of Defence’s prestigious badge of honour for organisations which have demonstrated outstanding support for the armed forces community – and South Tyneside was awarded silver earlier this year and is working towards gold.
“We recognise that being a forces-friendly employer enables us to benefit from the wide range of skills and experiences of reservists and veterans, coupled with the self-confidence, resourcefulness and positive attitude they gain through service in the forces.”
Professor Tim Briggs, co-chairman of the Veterans Covenant Hospitals Alliance, said: “I applaud City Hospitals Sunderland 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.”