As many of you know, I started my nursing career in the Royal Navy and I have always maintained a keen personal interest in the armed forces, not least because my husband is still serving. But I am not the only veteran who is also a member of Team ASPH and we also have a number of reservists, who we support when they take part in operations in this country and abroad and who bring great skills, experiences, learning and leadership to bear in the work we do here at ASPH together.
The NHS and Armed Forces have been working together, supported by NHS Employers, to strengthen relationships, share learning and career opportunities as well as thinking about how to support the delivery of healthcare to veterans. Click here for more information. All veterans are entitled to priority access to NHS care (including hospital, primary or community care) for conditions associated with their time within the armed forces (service-related). You can read more about that here.
So you can see we not only have an important relationship to develop with employment benefits but we also have a duty as an acute care organisation to consider our approach to caring for veterans.
This week is Armed Forces Week (24-28 June) and Richard Wooley, who is Armed Forces Engagement Manager, has run a wide range of activities across both sites and arranged for the Armed Forces flag to be raised at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals.
On Wednesday Richard held an Armed Forces Breakfast Muster and ran a stand at St Peter’s over lunchtime to raise awareness about Armed Forces Week. On Thursday, Richard represented Team ASPH at a special House of Lords lunch, where one of his cadets, 18 year old Sgt Ruta Dubinskaite, won this year’s Westminster Award from a field of 300 nominated. Well done Richard and Ruta.
The covenant will be signed by Colonel Ash Boreman of 256 (City of London) Field Hospital and our Chairman Andy Field.
The Armed Forces Covenant sets out the relationship between the nation, the government – and in our case the NHS - and the Armed Forces. It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces and their families, and establishes how they should expect to be treated.
Last week I was at the NHS Confederation Annual Conference in Manchester, where we talked about the opportunities presented by recruiting from the diversity of the people who live in our local community. This includes ensuring we recruit local people with an armed forces background and their families. At Ashford and St Peter’s we are part of the national Step into Health programme, which provides a dedicated pathway for the Armed Forces community to access career opportunities available in the NHS.
Alongside this we support cadets, exposing them to our world and encouraging them to consider the huge range of opportunities the NHS offers as they consider their futures. But I am conscious we need to explore other ways to encourage a wider range of people to consider careers at ASPH and NHS more widely.
Please take a minute at the end of your busy week to join me in reflecting and recognising the contribution of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.
With very best wishes,