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Veteran Support

Supporting current and former Forces personnel

We have committed to supporting serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families whether they are patients or members of staff. This commitment means we make sure members of the armed forces community are never disadvantaged compared to other patients. We make sure our staff are trained on the specific needs veterans and armed forces personnel may have. And we also know where to signpost you to for any additional support that is available.

On this page, you’ll find out how to get that support for yourself or a loved one.

Our patients

If you or a family member has ever served in the UK armed forces, please let us know. This is so we can support you with the best care. You can either tell the staff treating you, or you can do this through our PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) team.

To contact our PALS team, please phone 0118 322 8338, or email on PALS@royalberkshire.nhs.uk

Defence Medical Welfare Service

We also host a Support Worker from the Defence Medical Welfare Service two days a week at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. They are here to help you navigate health and social systems, offering you a personalised, confidential and coordinated approach.

They work alongside the hospital and community teams, and can help with practical needs or welfare issues, for example debt or housing, through signposting, onward referrals or simply being there to talk through your questions and concerns.

To speak to the support worker based at the hospital, just ask any member of staff to arrange it for you. It is a service we offer to inpatients.

Veterans

All veterans in England, Scotland, and Wales are entitled to priority access to the National Health Service (NHS) care (including hospital, primary or community care) for conditions associated with their time within HM Armed Forces (service-related). This is always subject to clinical need and doesn’t entitle you to jump the queue ahead of someone with a higher clinical need.

Our staff

Supporting recruitment and employees

The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust is signed up to Step into Health which supports people from the Armed Forces community to access career opportunities in the NHS. This can be through setting up training opportunities, clinical and general work placements, insight days and receiving support with applications. The programme provides a dedicated pathway into a career in the NHS.

And once you are a member of staff at the Trust, we also support you and your family in a number of ways, including flexible and hybrid working, annual leave, health and wellbeing. If you are interested in working for us, please contact our Recruitment team directly on 0118 322 5353 / Jobs@royalberkshire.nhs.uk

Watch Mel and James’ experience of Mel’s role at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

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Supporting military spouses in the NHS

Accreditation

We signed the Armed Forces Covenant in September 2017 to pledge our support as an employer and health organisation to the armed forces and in 2018 we were awarded a Silver Award as part of the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, recognising our support of the Defence and Armed Forces Community.

In 2022 we achieved 'Veteran Aware' status accreditation from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance. This means we are focused on several key areas, including:

  • Ensuring that the armed forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients.
  • Training relevant staff on veteran specific needs.
  • Signposting veterans, reservists and service families to support services both within the NHS and externally available to them.
  • Supporting members of staff who are current or past members of the armed forces, or who have family members who are, as an employer.

Access to services offering support

If you or a family member is a current or past member of the Armed Forces you might be interested in some of these sources of support:

Veterans' Mental Health and Wellbeing Service (Op Courage) - Our colleagues in the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust offer a Mental Health and Wellbeing Service for Veterans called Op Courage. They are open to anyone who has served in the armed forces community regardless of length of time served, rank or reason for leaving.

It has 3 levels of support:

  • Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) - the first point of contact for veterans having difficulties with their mental health or emotional wellbeing.
  • Complex Treatment Service (CTS) - for more complex mental health difficulties related to your military experiences such as PTSD, anger or depression.
  • High Intensity Service (HIS) - working alongside other mental health services e.g. inpatient wards to offer joint support for veterans who are in, or at risk of, a mental health crisis.

You can refer yourself to this service or get referred by your GP. To find out more please look at their website: Veterans' Mental Health and Wellbeing Service (Op COURAGE)

The Veterans' Gateway - The gateway is a hub of information for veterans and their families, offering support in lots of areas from healthcare to housing to employability. They will be able to connect you with other organisations offering the right support.

Telephone: 0808 802 1212
Text: 81212
www.veteransgateway.org.uk 

Other useful sources of support

Royal British Legion: 0808 802 8080 https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/ 
SSAFA: 0800 731 4880 https://www.ssafa.org.uk/  
Help for Heroes: 01980 844280 https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/ 
Combat Stress: 0800 138 1619 https://combatstress.org.uk/  

Other websites:

NHS website - healthcare for the armed forces community
Veterans UK – Ministry of Defence support for veterans
Ministry of Defence domestic abuse guidance and support for the armed forces community
Defence Medical Welfare Service
Veterans outreach service – drop-in sessions for veterans
Cobseo - Confederation of Service Charities – Includes a directory of Service organisations

Help for partners and carers:

Help for Heroes: band of sisters - support for partners of injured veterans.
The Ripple Pond - peer support for carers of injured service personnel and veterans.

Help for service leavers:

Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) - supporting the transition into civilian life.