Could you help shape NHS support for Bedford’s armed forces veterans?

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Soldier

An appeal has been launched for veterans – or anyone passionate about care for the armed forces community – to join a steering group to shape NHS support for former service personnel.

The group will include those who currently serve in the armed forces as reservists, anyone who has ever served, as well as their families and loved ones. It is also open to members of the armed forces community, which includes carers, who use East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) services.

ELFT is also establishing Veterans’ Champions across the region to work closely within local communities to provide training, support and signposting, both for health practitioners and fellow veterans.

The paid role of Veterans Champion is part-time (up to 7.5 hours per week) to help co-produce ELFT’s initiative.

“There are already many excellent services available for Veterans, both within the voluntary and statutory services,” said an ELFT spokesperson.

“However as a Trust we wanted to ensure all our staff were aware of what the unique needs of our veterans are and how we can support them in finding the right help in a timely manner.

“The establishment of Veterans Champions across the region is a new initiative that will strengthen our commitment to working closely within the local communities providing training, support and signposting.”

The Trust has joined the national Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), a group of more than 50 providers aiming to improve the healthcare veterans receive from the NHS.

Part of the work will focus on understanding how veterans and the armed forces community use health and social care services and how they can be connected with services to meet their needs.

The work will also focus on the positive contribution which can be made by veterans through involvement from a service user perspective and also by considering how their skill-sets could also benefit services operationally through employment opportunities.

“We want to better support this group of people, ensure we recognise their unique needs and consider how their specialist skills and experience can also support us in our work,” said Jane Kelly, ELFT Clinical Lead for Recovery, who is leading the project with Dr Paul Gilluley, ELFT Chief Medical Officer.

The Trust is applying for accreditation through the VCHA and if successful, ELFT would be formally be recognised as a ‘Veteran Aware’ Trust and would display a Veteran Aware accreditation mark on all communications.

This will help build a network of support for the armed forces community and ensure that veterans, reservists and their families do not face disadvantage because of their service to the country.

Anyone interested in supporting the Trust’s veterans’ work is asked to send an email to  jane.kelly10@nhs.net

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