A new role has been created at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM), providing specialist support to Armed Forces patients.
UHNM has become the first hospital Trust in Staffordshire to appoint a full-time Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) Officer.
Lucy McDonald begins her 18-month post this week and will provide emotional and practical support to UK Armed Forces community members at both the Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospital, Stafford.
Her role, which could lead to potentially quicker discharges, has been created thanks to funding from Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care Board (ICB).
Lucy said: “I’m very excited to begin my new role here at UHNM, helping to support the wellbeing and welfare of our armed forces patients across both hospitals.
“Working with these patients at the bedside, the role enables me to identify and solve issues or problems that may be contributing to a patient’s poor physical and mental wellbeing, delaying discharge or preventing a full recovery.
“As well as helping Armed Forces community patients with a range of psychological and emotional stress, anxiety and communication problems at the bedside, working with UHNM colleagues and local partner organisations I will be able to refer them, when needed, into dedicated Armed Forces services and charities, arranging support packages that include housing, rehabilitation support and advice on funding and benefits, which will also help to speed up the discharge process.”
UHNM has Veteran Aware Accreditation and is a member of the Armed Forces Covenant.
David Smith, Transformation Project Manager and Armed Forces Champion at UHNM, said: “The Armed Forces Champions Team at UHNM receives a large volume of requests to go and support patients.
“While we currently have ‘Veterans Aware Champions’ on some of our larger wards and departments and we provide an outstanding service when available, we weren’t able to offer full-time availability. Having this role allows us to provide that dedicated support and continuity for the benefit of even more of our amazing veterans.”
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB Chief Medical Officer, Dr Paul Edmondson Jones served as an Army doctor for 23 years, seeing service in the Falklands conflict in 1982, the former Yugoslavia in 1993 and was awarded an MBE in 1992.
He added: “I am delighted that UHNM have appointed to this post with the ICB’s support and warmly welcome Lucy into her new role.
“Armed forces veterans can face additional health challenges to which their former service may contribute. It is therefore important that we support these veterans and ensure they do not face extra health barriers.”
Lucy’s appointment coincides with the launch of ‘Op COURAGE’, an NHS mental health specialist service designed to help serving personnel due to leave the military and their families with a range of support and treatment.