Support offered to armed forces veterans in the care of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust has been officially recognised through a national scheme.
UHMBT has received re-accreditation following its first year in the Veteran Aware Trust scheme, which recognises NHS Trusts that are exemplars of the best care for former military personnel.
Army veteran and UHMBT Assistant Director of People and Organisational Development Ray Olive said: “As an organisation we are here to support the specific needs of veterans. We haven’t just upheld the requirements of the Veteran Aware Trust accreditation – we've pushed beyond them.
“Veterans’ needs can be different because of some of the things they have been through and they also have access to additional services – for example, there is a specialist veterans’ service for knee and hip replacements which we can refer individuals to.
“We also provide referrals to organisations and services best placed to help with information, advice and support for veterans.”
Key changes within the Trust have been to introduce a policy of asking all patients if they are veterans on admission to hospital, and providing patient leaflets with information on help and support.
Ray, who is also chair of the UHMBT Forces Network, said: “Many military veterans move to new areas at the end of their service, and this can be a cause of difficulties with receiving the care that is needed.
“They can struggle to register with GPs and dentists, which means if they are already being treated for health conditions, they can find that they end up back at the start of the process when they leave the service.
“We aim to help veterans to receive continuity of care by accessing treatment pathways at the appropriate stage.
“We can also connect patients with the region’s veteran community and other organisations offering support such as local branches of the Royal British Legion and SSAFA, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association.”
Veteran Aware Trust re-accreditation follows the Trust’s Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award for outstanding support towards the Armed Forces community.
The award recognises the Trust’s commitment to improving NHS care and support for veterans, reservists, members of the Armed Forces and their families.
UHMBT has ensured that supportive HR policies in place for veterans, Reserves, and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, as well as spouses and partners of those serving in the armed forces.
UHMBT chair Mike Thomas, who is the Trust’s Veteran and Forces Network sponsor, said: “We are very proud of the work we have done to support veterans in our workforce and in our care and will continue to strive to offer these public servants the specialist support that they have earned through their service.”