On Wednesday 30 March, Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS) became the 800th organisation within the East Midlands to sign the Ministry of Defence Armed Forces Covenant. Alison Rounce, PICS’ Managing Director, signed alongside Major Lloyd Watts at a celebratory event at Nottingham Business Park near Nuthall.

Shortly afterwards on 20 April, PICS was accredited with a Bronze Award in the Employer Recognition Scheme.

The Covenant is a voluntary pledge for organisations that wish to demonstrate their support for the armed forces community and badge themselves as being ‘forces-friendly’. PICS employs 400 staff who provide NHS services for one million residents and support a federation of GPs from 70 practices across Nottinghamshire.

While enjoying cake and tea, guests exchanged ways of engaging the Defence community within the organisation, discussed how to attract the Defence community to the organisation and suggested ways to identify service users in need of support.

Leaders of the Nottingham Forest Community Trust attended to show their support as established signatories of the Covenant: Karen Frankland (Chair), Calum Osborne (Deputy Chief Executive Officer), and Declan Barker (Head of Programmes).

Guests included David Wood from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) which encourages and supports NHS providers to give the best care for the armed forces community. Paula Banbury, Clinical Lead for the PICS Pain Pathway service, joined to explain how PICS was piloting a project for NHS England with the VCHA to review rehab services within primary care, looking at what is available and in place for veterans.

PICS staff member Jo Fleming, a Clinical Pharmacist at Lombard Medical Centre in Newark, was also present as a veteran herself. Working with other members of PICS, Jo is championing the Veteran’s Charter which will enable and support more colleagues across primary care to tailor health and care services for members of the service community.

Kirstie Lawrence, Deputy Regional Employer Engagement Director for East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association said: “I could not be happier with the celebration and discussion that surrounded Primarily Integrated Community Services Ltd (PICS) during our 800th Armed Forces Covenant signing in the East Midlands.

“PICS have taken the first step in encouraging their own ex-service and Reservist employees to discuss their experiences and to really value the expertise they bring to the table. We look forward to working with them to develop a number of additional support initiatives.”

Ali Rounce, Managing Director of PICS and Partner at Eastwood Primary Care Centre, commented: “Signing this Covenant means a lot to us as many of our patients and staff members are part of the Armed Forces community. They deserve our respect and support, and fair treatment. We’re honoured to support them and recognise the value they contribute to Nottinghamshire.”