Made possible thanks to a £6 million grant from Headley Court Charity last year, the new veterans orthopaedic centre, at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH), near Oswestry, would be the first of its kind in the country.
The planning application from the hospital trust has now been lodged with Shropshire Council, setting out its ambitions for the new facility.
It will not only allow the hospital to bring the specialist care it already provides to veterans and military personnel together in a dedicated building, but will be accompanied by state-of-the-art training facilities, a cafe and ‘veterans hub’ offering mental health and other support services.
A statement submitted in support of the plans from the trust’s agent, Pinnegary Hayward Designs, says: “Currently, veterans are being treated within the outpatient department and elsewhere within the hospital site.
“The trust wishes to consolidate these facilities into one dedicated area within the hospital in order to provide the best health and wellbeing services for our country’s veterans and military personnel.
“With support from Headley Court Charity, the three-storey veterans centre will be a world class facility built to provide care for patients with a range of orthopaedic conditions such as joint problems and spinal injuries.
“The trust will also work with Shropshire Council and military charities within the building to provide support for mental health and PTSD, homelessness, debt, welfare and benefits.
“Additionally, as part of the proposal, the trust wishes to improve their training and research facilities to serve clinicians, physiotherapists and other professionals of both England and Wales, and beyond.
“The trust have established links with veteran services at the Walter Reed military hospital, USA.
“RJAH has a history of training overseas surgeons. A fellowship programme is envisaged for overseas surgeons to share working practices and help provide services.”
The new veterans centre will be built as an extension to the outpatient department, near the main entrance on an area of one of the visitor car parking.
The statement says the social aspects of the proposal will be “key to the success” of the centre, which the trust says will feel “familiar and safe”.
Services to be provided at the hub will include mental health support, group activities, courses, information and signposting, and assistance adjusting to civilian life.
The statement says: “A military theme will appear across the waiting, hub and cafe areas.
“Walls will be decorated in the tri-force colour scheme and will be used to proudly showcase military badges and plaques from the national army, navy, air forces.
“External glazing will also be completed with manifestation in the shape of military silhouettes.”
The hospital had initially launched a £1.5m fundraising appeal in 2018 to build a more modest outpatient facility for veterans, before Headley Court Charity stepped in.
Headley Court was the leading medical rehabilitation base for members of the Armed Forces before the transfer of those services to a new facility in 2018.
Following the move, charity trustees said they wanted to “honour the legacy of Headley Court” by funding other projects in keeping with their ethos.
The new facility in Gobowen will be known as the Headley Court Veterans’ Centre.
The agent’s statement adds: “The veterans centre has been designed with the aim to provide a world-class veterans healthcare and training facility, a first within the NHS.
“It will continue the legacy of Headley Court and prompt the development of similar services elsewhere.”
The planning application will be decided in due course by Shropshire Council.