Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) has successfully completed its Veteran Aware three-year re-accreditation, following a formal review by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA).

LPT received its formal re-accreditation status from the VCHA in July (2022). The VCHA is a group of NHS healthcare providers in England, committed to providing the best standards of care for the Armed Forces community, based on the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.

The Armed Forces Covenant which recently passed into law – is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve, or who have served, in the Armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. The aim is to develop, share and drive the implementation of best practice that will improve armed forces veterans’ care, while at the same time raising standards for everyone across the NHS.

Alongside other health and social care partners in the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care System (LLR ICS), LPT pledged its support for the armed forces community by signing the Armed Forces Covenant in 2021 – and, prior to this, signed as a Trust in 2017. This pledge included a commitment to ensure the armed forces personnel – and their families – should enjoy the same standard of, and access to healthcare, as other people living in the area.

LPT’s Managing Director Mark Powell, who is also part of the Trust’s Armed Forces Network, said: “As a Trust, we are committed to ensuring local veterans, reservists and military families living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are able to access support when they need it. We are proud to receive this re-accreditation and hope it inspires others to ensure we are looking after our armed forces community, after the personal sacrifices each former and serving armed forces personal has made to protect and defend our nation.

“We also hope this re-accreditation, and our other armed forces commitments, show veterans and those from the military community that we really are here for them. The reality for some veterans is they suffer in silence or they are unsure of what support is out there when it comes to their mental health. A lack of understanding of their experiences – or not having anyone to talk to who understands – can also be a huge barrier in them getting the support they need. We take our role very seriously and are constantly trying to educate and innovate to improve our services for veterans – and indeed all our patients.”

LPT has a dedicated Armed Forces Network, which works hard to raise awareness of the issues faced by those in the military community and is putting together a plan of improvements to help support veterans and the loved ones of those who are currently serving in the armed forces to get the support they need. This includes developing ways for health professionals to identify those who have served using their health records, engaging with local barracks to raise awareness of services available to military dependants and delivering training packages for staff to help educate them about some of the experiences and issues veterans may face.

In addition to this, the Trust is one of the only in the country to offer new and unique therapies to veterans, such as the chance to swim with emotional support dogs. LPT  also runs its Buddy2Buddy service, whereby veterans can connect, support and empower each other during virtual café style drop-in sessions.

Brendan Daly, the Trust’s armed forces lead, added: “We know that people’s military experiences can lead to challenges when they return to civilian life. LPT will always take the mental health of veterans seriously. This re-accreditation reaffirms our continued commitment to providing timely and appropriate healthcare for ex-service personnel and our drive to seek innovative treatments to support their recovery and add to the support available.”

VCHA regional lead for the midlands, David Wood, said: “The re-accreditation process is an opportunity for trusts to share lessons learnt over the previous three years. We encourage trusts to speak to patients, families and staff, to learn from the lived experience of the military and what it means as an employer and healthcare provider. LPT have created an environment where service is recognised and appreciated, and I look forward to working with them and celebrating their achievements over the next three years.”

The Veteran Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) is committed to improving Armed Forces and Veteran care whilst raising standards for all. 118 NHS providers in England are now Veteran Aware accredited, and the VCHA aims to have all Trusts in England accredited by March 2023. Find out more about the VCHA work and rehabilitation by visiting: https://veteranaware.nhs.uk/veterans-rehabilitation-project/