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News & Media

Media Release

Date: 23 June 2023

New support for armed forces community at RUH

Support for people who are serving in the armed forces, reservists or who are veterans, has been expanded at the Royal United Hospitals Bath (RUH) NHS Foundation Trust.

Members of the military with Cara Charles-Barks at the RUH

A brand new role – a welfare officer, from charity Defence Medical Welfare Service – has been introduced to ensure that patients who are from the armed forces community can access the wide range of additional services that are available to them. This extends to those who have family connections to the forces too.

The extra help can include referrals for health-related needs such as mental health, substance misuse and physical wellbeing. The RUH can also help with supported referrals for other factors that affect a person's welfare, including education and training, housing, employment and much more.

Fiona Leslie, who is working as the RUH's Defence Medical Welfare Officer, said: "People serving or who have served in the military are exposed to lots of very different challenges and experiences that most of us will never come across as civilians.

"They, and their families, sacrifice so many aspects of their lives to serve the nation, so the least we can do is support them and their family members and carers when they need it.

"There is a lot of support out there for a wide variety of welfare needs, but people have to be aware of it and able to access it, and that's what I can help with.

"It's better for the RUH too, as having the right support means that people don't need to stay in hospital longer than necessary or have an unnecessary readmission because support when they are discharged isn't in place."

The RUH is an accredited Veteran Aware hospital, a Gold member of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, and has worked closely with the Defence Medical Welfare Service to enable this latest improvement.

Patients will now be asked about their armed forces status as a standard question when they come to the RUH and, with their permission, can be put in touch with Fiona. Patients can also contact Fiona directly using the contact details on the RUH website.

There is no minimum length of service which makes someone a veteran and eligible for this extra support, it can be just one day.

Cara Charles-Barks, RUH Chief Executive and Honorary Colonel of 243 (The Wessex) Field Hospital said: "We're committed to listening to the people we care for, and acting on what matters most to them.

"Being part of the armed forces community is a really important part of people's identity, and it's essential that we recognise that people might have slightly different needs as a result of this.

"I'm delighted that our support has been expanded – it's part of our responsibility to ensure that we're delivering the best possible care. We will continue listening, learning and responding."

Find out more on the RUH website:


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