Helston Community Hospital has been recognised for its care for members of the Armed Forces Community.

This week, the hospital has become the first hospital within the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to receive Veteran Aware Status.

With this accreditation, the hospital has demonstrated that it can offer a range of care services for the Armed Forces community.

The Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) is a group of NHS providers, including acute, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts. It encourages providers to identify those patients with an armed forces background.

By doing this the Trust can offer access to specific veterans’ health services, including mental health, hearing loss, limb amputation and wheelchairs.

At a ceremony to mark the occasion, a plaque was unveiled by Trust chief executive Debbie Richards and matron Lynda McHale who has recently celebrated her 50th year in the NHS. 

Those attending the event included Trust and NHS colleagues; veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces, including the commanding officer of RNAS Culdrose, Captain Stuart Irwin; local teachers; members of forces’ charities, including SSAFA and Scotty’s Little Soldiers; Royal British Legion, Help for Heroes, the Royal Air Force Association, the Army Benevolent Fund, and MP Derek Thomas.

Neill Wilson is a progress coordinator at Helston Community Hospital. He is also an Armed Forces service champion for the Trust.

He said: “I’m very proud. It has been a lot of work over a long period of years.

“Veteran Aware status comes from the Armed Forces covenant. It has been awarded to us for our work with serving veterans in the wider local community. We can signpost and support them as they come into the hospital system.

“It’s not just inpatients that receive support, it is the people that live in the community. The community matrons support veterans as well, the district nurses do, so it’s all of our services that we provide here at this unit.”

He added: “If you get either a serving or an Armed Forces veteran coming to the hospital, and they see the Veteran Aware sign they will know that they will be supported.

“For example, if they have orthopaedic issues, they can be fast-tracked for knee replacements and hip replacements. Also, if they need any support at home, we can signpost them to the charities that support them in that way.”

Debbie Richards was joined by matron Lynda McHale as the Veteran Aware plaque was unveiled on Monday. Helston also has the honour of being the first unit to include the King’s crown on the plaque.

Debbie said: “This is indeed a very special occasion. Our Trust is committed to ensuring we promote the welfare of veterans, both in terms of our patients, and people who use our services, but also the staff we have amongst us in our organisation. We benefit enormously from what all of those veterans bring to our organisation.

“Over the last few years, we have been setting up staff networks, one of which is the veteran’s network, so an additional thank you to them for all their hard work and keeping us on track in these very busy times.

“Being focused on all the work we need to do, not just to improve patient care and accessibility to services, but also to ensure we truly recognise the value that our veteran colleagues bring to the Trust, and what more we can do to support them to thrive in the workplace.”