The partnership which brings together those responsible for health and social care across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) has today pledged its support for the armed forces community by signing the Armed Forces Covenant.

The LLR Integrated Care System (LLR ICS) is a partnership between LLR’s clinical commissioning groups, local authorities and providers of NHS services. Together, they commission and provide health and social care services for the local population. They also combine to plan and deliver public health programmes with a particular focus on reducing inequalities.

The LLR ICS is one of the first such partnerships to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, which demonstrates their commitment to ensuring that armed forces personnel and their families should enjoy the same standard of, and access to, healthcare as other citizens in the local area. The Covenant also enables special consideration to be given in appropriate individual circumstances, especially for those who have given most, such as the injured and families of the bereaved.

The Covenant was signed on Monday 16th August at the Victoria Building, Leicester Royal Infirmary. The signatories were David Sissling, Chair of the LLR ICS and Lt Col Mike Robinson, Commanding Officer of the Defence Animal Training Regiment, representing the Ministry of Defence. They were joined by armed forces reservists employed by the partner organisations that make up the LLR ICS.

David Sissling said: “We are absolutely committed to supporting our armed forces community, including their families. We are delighted to be able to formally demonstrate this commitment by signing the Covenant today.

“We employ a number of staff within our organisations who have served in the armed forces, and we value their contribution enormously. I would especially like to thank our armed forces colleagues for all their support in responding to the pandemic. Just one example of this is the invaluable part they played in helping us to deliver the covid vaccine programme across LLR.”

Some of the organisations that make up the LLR ICS have previously signed the Covenant independently but, by signing up collectively, each partner in the ICS has now committed to working together for the benefit of the armed forces community.

As well as ensuring that service personnel are not disadvantaged in the provision of services, the LLR ICS has also pledged that service family members should not lose their place on any NHS waiting list if they have to move for service reasons and that veterans should receive priority treatment for any condition which relates to their service, subject to clinical need.

As employers each LLR ICS organisation will seek to support the employment of veterans, their spouses and partners as well as members of Reserve Forces. The ICS Board will include an Armed Forces Champion, to ensure that the ICS delivers on its commitment.

Lt Col Mike Robinson said: “I’d like to thank everyone involved at the LLR ICS for being supportive of the armed forces community and, in particular, the pledges you have made”.

Bruce Spencer, the Director of Employer Engagement for the East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association said “By signing the Covenant, you recognise the value that serving personnel, reservists, veterans and military families bring to your organisation, and to our country. This is an important moment and echoes the resilience brought to the nation by the armed forces across the pandemic.”