On Thursday 26 January, Nottinghamshire’s Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS) became the first primary care employer in England and the first independent health provider in the Midlands to be honoured with Veteran-Aware status. 

PICS staff received the award from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) during a special ceremony at Warsop Health Centre, Mansfield, the site of one of our services, Meden Medical Practice. VCHA Team Leader, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Guy Benson, said the quality of care and workplace support provided by PICS had ‘significantly improved’ the health and wellbeing of Nottinghamshire’s Veterans. 

Tony Armstrong, VCHA’s Widening Scope (Projects) Lead, applauded staff for “building a 360-support network for the local Veteran and Armed Force community through collaboration with local partners, community initiatives and GP services”. He also recognised excellent systems at PICS for finding veterans and members of the armed forces community within the workforce and local population and personally thanked Anna Parker, Mansfield North PCN Paramedic and Jo Fleming, Newark PCN Clinical Pharmacist, for assisting more GP Practices in the region to work towards Veteran-Aware status. 

In a moving moment, local Veterans, carers and serving personnel shared their experiences of being supported by the ‘amazing’ staff. RAF Veteran Brain Booth, 84, said the support he received from Rose Severn, Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker, means his ‘life is a lot easier now.’ Read the full case study below: What matters to you? | Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS) (picsnhs.org.uk)

Pictured 4th from the left and speaking below, Eunice Fletcher, known as Robbie, explained the impact of being married to a serving member of the armed forces: “It’s taken me 30 years to get used to living on civvy street after my husband left the forces. Then I started to lose my sight. It’s funny when simple things become not so simple. Until you’re in the same situation, you take it for granted. So for someone to be there if I need help, it makes a big difference.”  

 Also there to share their experiences and appreciation were Candice Hall, serving personnel, with her baby son; Mrs Tracey Garner and Aidey Garner from the local Royal British Legion.  

PICS staff present included Veterans who now work at PICS and volunteer Veteran Champions who support PICS colleagues from the Armed Forces community in the workplace. Staff from Meden Medical Services hosted the event, and when they briefly popped in, were congratulated for recently achieving the Royal College of General Practitioner-awarded Veteran-friendly status. Left to right in the photo below: Katie Pickard, Practice Nurse; Tracey Guthridge, Reception Supervisor; Hayley Guthridge, Assistant Practice Manager; Kelly Murphy, Healthcare Assistant; and Michelle Wilson, Advanced Nurse Practitioner who isn’t pictured. 

Partners in local health care provision were invited to collaborate on support for veterans, including Clinical Director for Mid Notts Place Based Partnership and local GP, Dr Thilan Bartholomeuz, and Arron Darrall, Practice Manager from Riverbank Medical Practice which is part of the Mansfield North Primary Care Network. Dr Bartholomeuz is pictured below on the left speaking to recognise the impact of the work of staff and congratulate PICS for “being proactive in identifying and supporting the needs of the individuals and families.” 

PICS provides services on behalf of the NHS for community, primary, out of hospital and secondary care. We have provided training to over 400 employees on how to identify Veterans, recognise their specialist needs and signpost appropriate support and services. Our caring teams work across Nottinghamshire with almost half working in specialist roles within 70 general practice surgeries.  

PICS also recently became the first organisation in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to be awarded the Carer-friendly Quality Mark as both an employer and service provider: Nottingham’s first Carer-friendly employer and service provider | Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS) (picsnhs.org.uk)

Tony Armstrong said: “The East Midlands has the third highest population of veterans and 30,000 people in Nottinghamshire have some connection to the UK’s armed forces, so the scale of the need for personalised primary care services is clear. PICS works closely with patients in the community and has a well-earned reputation for providing quality, evidence-based and patient-centric health and wellbeing care.” 

Dr Kelvin Lim, Medical Director of PICS and a GP in Eastwood said: “We have an unbreakable commitment to the Armed Forces community and are proud to employ Veterans and members of the Armed Forces community at PICS. It’s exciting to be the first primary care provider in England to achieve Veteran-Aware accreditation. With primary care including GP Surgeries and community services handling over 90 per cent of NHS care, it’s crucial this workforce recognises that the armed forces community are more likely to have poorer health outcomes due to being in service or having a loved one in service.  Thank you to the VCHA for their support, and to local residents for celebrating PICS staff, who work very hard to provide the best possible care and treatment for our valued community.” 

Find your local Veteran Breakfast Club

Or contact your GP Surgery and ask to be registered as a Carer or member of the Armed Forces Community. 

PICS Veteran-aware event 26 Jan 2023 – all. L-R: Jo Fleming, PICS Clinical Pharmacist for Newark PCN; Arron Darrall, Riverbank Medical Practice Manager; Anna Parker, PICS Paramedic for Mansfield North PCN; Mrs Tracey Garner; Brian Booth, member of the local Veteran Breakfast club; Aidey Garner, representative of the local Royal British Legion; Candice Hall, serving personnel, with her baby son; Michelle Wilson, Advanced Nursing Practitioner at Meden; Katie Pickard, Practice Nurse at Meden; Rose Severn, PICS Senior Social Prescriber, Mansfield North PCN; Tracey Guthridge, Reception Supervisor at Meden; Emma Alder, PICS Quality and Governance Lead; Kelly Murphy, Healthcare Assistant at Meden; Robbie Fletcher, member of the local Veteran Breakfast club; Hayley Guthridge, PICS Assistant Practice Manager, Meden Medical Centre; Lt Col (Retired) Guy Benson, VCHA Team Leader; Karen Frankland, PICS Deputy Managing Director; Dr Thilan Bartholomeuz, GP and Clinical Director for Mid Notts Place Based Partnership.