Barnsley Hospital gains ‘Veteran Aware’ status

Barnsley Hospital has been accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’ – and was proud to receive a plaque unveiled in hospital main reception by Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, also a former Army officer.

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Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central stands with Ben Parkinson OBE and hospital staff in front of the Veteran Aware plaque

Guests were delighted at the event on Friday (Oct 6) to have a visit from Ben Parkinson MBE, former paratrooper, veterans’ campaigner and author. Ben is well-known for being the most severely wounded soldier to survive the war in Afghanistan.

Also among guests was Nigel Bullock, Barnsley Hospital Lead Acute Pain Nurse, a veteran himself. He has served as a Major in the British Army’s 212 Field Hospital (Yorkshire) and was instrumental in re-establishing Barnsley Hospital’s Acute Pain Service. Nigel said it was ‘a real honour’ to gain veteran accreditation in Barnsley.

Achieving ‘Veteran Aware’ status means an organisation takes active note of the needs of the Armed Forces Community, having met standards laid down by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), a national NHS team.

Dan, alongside the inspirational Ben Parkinson, was proud to unveil the Veterans Aware plaque recognising the hospital’s ongoing commitment to supporting our Armed Forces veterans. 

Praising the work the hospital has done to achieve Veteran Aware status over recent months, Dan said: “No-one should be disadvantaged as a consequence of their service, and that is why the Veteran Aware work Barnsley Hospital has been doing is so important. It will give an assurance to our veteran community that their sacrifice and contribution is recognised, and acknowledges the importance of looking after those who have served.

“It’s important that we understand that those who step forward to serve in our armed forces and their families sometimes face particular challenges.”

Barnsley Hospital Managing Director Bob Kirton said at the plaque unveiling: “A lot of effort went into achieving Veteran Aware accreditation and we are very proud to receive it. We know veterans are an important part of Barnsley and we aim to be a good employer for the armed forces community.”

Nigel Bullock paid tribute to all the armed forces including those who were still serving and said he was grateful for the support for veterans from the hospital Executive Team.

The VCHA’s aim is to make sure that patients from the Armed Forces Community, including families and dependents, are paid due regard and are not disadvantaged in terms of access to and outcomes of healthcare, as a result of their military life in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.

It does this by developing, sharing and driving the implementation of best practice, while at the same time raising standards for everyone in NHS Trusts in England. The NHS Long Term Plan has since expanded the programme to include Integrated Care Boards, hospices and the Independent Care Sector.

The Armed Forces Covenant 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 Trust’s accreditation means that 160 NHS providers across England are now Veteran Aware accredited and the alliance aims to have all Trusts accredited by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

Barnsley Hospital is a 400-bed acute hospital that provides a range of healthcare service including urgent and emergency care, outpatient clinics, inpatient services, and maternity and children’s services to the local community and surrounding area, serving more than a quarter of a million people.

About 11% of the South Yorkshire population is from the Armed Forces Community.

VCHA Regional Lead Mandy Stokes said: “Congratulations to the Trust for becoming accredited and I look forward to working with you as you further develop your offer to the wider Armed Forces Community.”

VCHA Chairman, Prof Tim Briggs CBE, said: “More and more Trusts are seeing the value of Veteran Aware accreditations as seen through the numbers of Trusts that are now accredited. We now stand at 76% of NHS Trusts across England, which is a testament both to the dedication of my team and to the wider NHS family who work tirelessly on behalf of the military community despite the many pressures they will be under. Well done all.”