The Sussex Armed Forces Network is made up of organisations across all sectors serving the public to help make sure people who have, or are serving in the British Armed Forces and their immediate families are not disadvantaged. The Armed Forces Network, which includes members from NHS organisations, the Ministry of Defence, police, fire and rescue, local authorities, Armed Forces Regulars and Reservists as well as charities and other local organisations, aims to raise awareness of the help that is available. The Network works in partnership with the whole Armed Forces community, which includes serving and former service personnel (Veterans), immediate family members and carers.
Member organisations have named people, Service Champions, within their organisations which champion the causes of those currently or formerly in the military and their families. They provide training and education for staff and act as a first point of contact for people from the Armed Forces and help them navigate the various systems. There are also a number of informative factsheets available on the Network website which cover key issues including suicide prevention, mental health and dentistry.
The main aims for the Network are:
- Implementing through leadership and influencing others to ensure the covenant is met and any research/engagement outcomes are used.
- To support individual vulnerable and complex members of the Armed Forces community.
- To support faster appropriate care for the Armed Forces community whether a reservist/regular to be deployable or those who have been impacted by serving or an immediate member of their family.
- Holistic support for individuals, families and carers to ensure wellbeing, prevention and care.
- To support the quality and safety of the Armed Forces community.
- To support the transition and utilisation of this community as an asset to the wider population.
- Sharing of good practice across sectors and services
- Improved quality of life for the individual and their families/carers.
- Quick access to a safe, quality service which has an understanding of the Armed Forces community hence enabling the care to be appropriate.
- Actively provided enhanced integrated care and support.
- A local population which understands the needs and assets of the Armed Forces community.
The Armed Forces Network websites have the pathways for Sussex, Kent & Medway, Surrey, Hampshire and London covering key topics including mental health. It also includes materials for the Gurkha Nepalese community.
The pathway information/data has been used to populate the Forces Connect app, which is available for download for free from both the App Store and Google Play.
Veteran Friendly GP Practice Accreditation
Over the next five years, NHS England and NHS Improvement, together with the Royal College of General Practitioners, are rolling out the veteran friendly GP practice accreditation scheme across England. This scheme, which is intended to help ensure practices are equipped to best care for veterans and their families, has already accredited over 550 surgeries nationally with an increasing number of Sussex GP practices registering.
The Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA)
The VCHA aims to improve NHS care for the Armed Forces community by supporting trusts, health boards and other providers to identify, develop and showcase the best standards of care. To date, over 40 trusts have been accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’, having demonstrated their commitment to eight core manifesto standards, including signing the Armed Forces Covenant, raising awareness of veterans’ healthcare needs among staff, and establishing links with local support providers.
In Sussex, both Brighton & Sussex University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have both been accredited.
NHS England and Improvement
The NHS is responsible for providing all hospital and most community services for serving personnel (except for mental health, general practice and rehabilitation services). The NHS also provides nearly all community, general practice and hospital services for the families of serving personnel, reservists and veterans. Included as part of this are the following dedicated services and initiatives to support the Armed Forces community.
NHS England and Improvements have specifically commissioned services which are available for the Armed Forces Community – the briefing below gives the information in respect to the services and links into their sites.