The UK’s first dedicated orthopaedic centre for Armed Forces veterans is to be built in Shropshire – thanks to a remarkable £6 million charitable grant.
The centre is to go up at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (RJAH), a world-renowned organisation based near Oswestry.
The hospital had initially launched a £1.5 million appeal in October 2018 to build a more modest outpatient facility for veterans, but is now set to realise a grander vision thanks to the support of the Headley Court Charity.
Headley Court was the leading medical rehabilitation base for members of the Armed Forces before the transfer of those services to a new facility at Stanford Hall.
And, following that move, the Trustees of the Headley Court Charity, have been looking for worthy causes in keeping with their ethos and aims to support in the form of charitable grants from their reserves.
They identified the Veterans Orthopaedic Centre at RJAH, which aims to treat service personnel and veteran patients in a bespoke, military environment, which feels familiar to them, while addressing their specific needs – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Having agreed to the multi-million pound grant, the new facility will be known as the Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre.
Air Vice Marshal Anthony J. Stables, Chairman of the Headley Court Charity, said:
“Trustees are delighted to be able to support the build of the country’s first dedicated Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre.
“Having determined to close the Headley Court Charity, following the move of defence medical rehabilitation from Headley Court to a new facility at Stanford Hall, we sought to fund projects that both had comparable purpose and honoured the legacy of Headley Court – and the Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre absolutely does that.
“This centre will expand on the fantastic work already provided by the Veterans’ Orthopaedic Service at RJAH and we are delighted that the memory of Headley Court will live on through this new centre.”
The Veterans Orthopaedic Service was initially started in 2014 by Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, a serving Army Officer who is also a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at RJAH.
And he is delighted that his long-term vision for world class veterans’ healthcare to be available in the UK via the National Health Service is set to be realised.
“First and foremost, I must thank the Trustees of the Headley Court Charity for their amazingly generous grant and for believing in what we’re doing here at RJAH,” said Lt Col Meyer.
“The build of this centre will provide us with a specialised facility, that provides the bespoke care that our veterans’ need, in an environment that feels familiar to them, where they feel welcome and at ease.
“Veterans and service personnel serve their country, and there are very few professions where going to work places you at risk of dying or being severely injured, and I think that level of commitment and service should absolutely be recognised.
“What I must stress though is that this centre won’t just benefit the military population – but also civilian patients.
“This is a service for patients with a wide range of orthopaedic conditions including hip and knee problems, upper limb issues and spinal injuries. It caters for a wide range of injuries.
“Thanks to our strong connections with Shropshire Council and military charities, the hospital is also providing the whole package, in terms of holistic care, providing support for not just the physical injuries but other issues, such as mental health, homelessness, finance, debt management, welfare, and benefits.”
The £6 million two-storey building will feature 10 standard examination rooms. There will also be clinic rooms, which will also be utilised for Physiotherapy appointments.
It will also include a treatment and procedure room, an assessment room and a splinting and therapy room.
In the main entrance foyer of the centre, there will be a café, as well as a dedicated Veterans’ Hub, where Shropshire Council and military charities will provide support to veterans, their family and friends, in relation to issues that range from homelessness, finance, debt management, welfare, benefits, health and PTSD, to name a few.
The upstairs of the centre will feature dedicated Research offices, training space for staff, a multi-disciplinary team room, and an office for Admin staff.
The centre will be built to the highest standards and have a familiar military feel to make veteran patients more comfortable.
Frank Collins, RJAH Chairman, said:
“Thank you to the Headley Court Charity for their incredible support. The build of this centre is going to make a real difference to our veterans and serving personnel, who deserve the very best care possible.
“I believe we are the right hospital to be providing this service. We are a truly wonderful hospital, with fantastic outcomes, low infection rates and with staff who understand the needs of veterans.”
Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive at RJAH, added: “We’re extremely proud to say that we will be building the country’s first dedicated NHS veterans’ orthopaedic centre here at RJAH, expanding on the already fantastic Veterans’ Orthopaedic Service that we provide.
“We are totally blown away by the support the appeal has received and not just from the Headley Court Charity but from individuals, organisations and members of the community.
“Despite the appeal coming to a close, we will still require fundraising support, to be able to continue enhancing the service in the future. We hope that fantastic support carries on.”
Photo caption: artists’ impressions of the exterior of The Headley Court Veterans Orthopaedic Centre due to be built at RJAH.