Blog post

Inclusion and representation: our Armed Forces journey

How one NHS trust is celebrating Armed Forces Week and how it continues to excel in supporting its Armed Forces Community.

22 June 2021


  • Caroline Shaw CBE Chief Executive, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust
  • Laura Skaife-Knight Deputy Chief Executive & Exec Sponsor for the trust's Armed Forces Network

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS Foundation Trust (QEH) is joining other trusts across the country in celebrating Armed Forces Week.

At QEH, one of our core values is to ensure everyone is included and represented. This includes ensuring those who serve, or have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated with fairness and respect.

Many of our colleagues are from Armed Forces backgrounds, and with RAF Marham on our doorstep we serve a large Armed Forces community. The steps we’ve taken all work towards delivering better patient experience, improving our culture and creating a supportive environment for our colleagues.

To celebrate Armed Forces Week (21-27 June 2021) we’ve arranged a number of events (subject to COVID-19 restrictions). These events provide a great opportunity for us to reflect on the important progress we’ve made so far.

As part of our celebrations we’ll be raising the Armed Forces Day flag, saluting our services, sharing stories, promoting our Armed Forces champions, and taking a socially distanced Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) break for all our staff to raise their mug in support of our Armed services. Our drive to ensure the best possible experience for our staff, patients and their families, continues beyond this event as we continue to build on our position as an inclusive employer and ambition to be an NHS leader for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Our Armed Forces Network was established in 2019, to help improve the support we offer to patients and staff with Armed Forces backgrounds. We welcome all staff and volunteers with an interest in supporting an inclusive culture and our members represent all levels and areas of the trust. The group meets every other month to discuss ways we can improve good practice and share this across all areas of the organisation, whether it be including features in newsletters to raise awareness and encourage support, or talking face to face we’re trying hard to make a real difference to our delivery of care.

We were really proud to receive the Gold Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Award in 2020, which recognises the policies and support we have in place for our staff with Armed Forces backgrounds, which includes the extra 10 days leave our reservists receive to fulfil their training commitments. In the same year, we were delighted when the Step Into Health Awards recognised our Medical Engineering Technician Dave Huggett who served as a Technician in the RAF for 29 years. Dave is the trust’s Service Leavers champion, working to inspire and guides others, and offering valuable support to managers when considering an Armed Forces candidate. Our connections with our local base RAF Marham is really important to us, and we benefit from a number of Armed Forces champions at QEH. These members of staff act as a first point of contact to ensure the trust is following the asks of the Armed Forces Covenant to ensure our staff and patients are not disadvantaged because of their background.

Most recently, we’ve been awarded Veteran Aware Hospital status for our work to support our patients who are members of the Armed Forces community. We know there is more work to be done but this is just the first step on the ladder for us as we work more closely with colleagues, patients and external organisations to improve the care we provide to those with Armed Forces connections. We're now one of 71 members of the Veteran Covenant Healthcare Alliance and are part of a growing number of NHS trusts gaining this accreditation.

You can find out more about our journey and follow The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust’s Armed Forces Network on Twitter via @teamQEH_AFNet.