Posted on: 7 February 2023

CNWL is proud to announce that it has signed the Armed Forces Covenant (Monday 6 February), pledging our commitment as an employer and healthcare provider in making sure veterans, reservists, and military families are supported by our services.

The Covenant raises awareness about the impacts of service life, asking public bodies to consciously consider the Armed Forces community when making decisions and developing new policies and programmes.

Chief Executive, Claire Murdoch co-signed the document with Colonel Anthony McGrath and we were joined by staff who are current serving officers, veterans and their family members.

Samara Hammond, Nurse Consultant for Deteriorating Patient and Clinical Skills and herself a Captain in the British Army said:

“I am thrilled the Covenant is being signed today. At CNWL, we already do a lot and I’ve always been supported and encouraged in my time as a reservist. I’ve been a nurse for 35 years and I’m part of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps. I’m extremely proud of both careers, and what I’ve learnt in the army enables me to be a better NHS nurse leader.

“Two years ago I was deployed to Afghanistan and Covid was also there. Because of my work in the NHS, I helped roll out a vaccination programme and I was an expert when it came to things like isolation. Not only was I able to use my NHS skills but I developed those even further and put myself in a position which has allowed me to grow.”

Speaking at the event, Chief Executive, Claire Murdoch said:

“There are 1.7 million households in the UK with one or more persons who have served in the armed forces, and our services see hundreds of patients who are veterans, including Talking Therapies, Homelessness teams, Addictions and Health and Justice. It’s important we commit to upholding the Covenant, supporting this community and their families. We owe you a massive debt of gratitude both for the past, now and into the future.

"It’s only right that we lean in on what we are already doing and tackle some of the poor access they have faced in the past. It’s work we undertake with pride.”

Armed Forces Covenant

Signing the Covenant is voluntary, but it formalises the Trust’s support for patients and staff who serve, or have served in the Armed Forces, along with their families. It is a promise that they should be treated fairly, and not be disadvantaged because of their service as well as a recognition of the sacrifices they make on our behalf.

This is the first step towards becoming ‘Veteran Aware’, and joining the ranks of Trusts who are leading the way in improving care for veterans within the NHS. We will be working with the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) to reach this goal.

At the event, Colonel McGrath of 256 Field Hospital, an Army Reserve unit based in London (the city’s only Army Medical Services Hospital) said:

“As a mental health nurse it’s gratifying to see a mental health Trust take the first step and recognise how much they can do for the armed forces.

“There are soldiers and veterans who will have mental health problems, and often people don’t speak out when they’re suffering. Having services where people can be treated is very important. The NHS offers those skills and health already, and working with colleagues such as yourselves this is something we can do. The Covenant is an important step on that journey, and it’s an honour to be here and be back where I started my career.”

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The Covenant contains a number of pledges which require us to maintain 'armed forces friendly' services, and by signing we are committed to:

  • Making our services veteran friendly, offering trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive practices as standard practice.
  • Supporting reservists by offering them additional days of annual leave in order to carry out their duties.
  • Supporting the employment of veterans and cadets (offering work placements, insight days, mentoring schemes and guaranteed interview schemes)
  • Providing and promoting training to staff to be aware of the unique needs of the Armed Forces Community and how to signpost to other helpful local services
  • Establishing an internal Armed Forces Network, to enable staff members with an Armed Forces connection to meet and support one another and provide feedback to us as an organisation.

Click here for more details.