Work on veterans' health centre could start later this year if 'exciting project' gets go-ahead, says hospital boss

Work could start later this year if the plans to create a world-leading veterans' healthcare centre at a Shropshire hospital are given the go-ahead, its boss has said.

How the Headley Court Veterans' Centre could look
How the Headley Court Veterans' Centre could look

A planning application for the new veterans orthopaedic centre at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, near Oswestry, has now been lodged with Shropshire Council.

Mark Brandreth, the hospital's chief executive, says it is an 'exciting time' and will help the trust to provide world-class care.

Made possible thanks to a £6 million grant from Headley Court Charity last year, it would be the first of its kind in the country.

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.

Mr Brandreth said: "This is such an exciting project.

"We're so grateful to the Headley Court Charity for their support.

"When this started we were trying to fundraise £1.5 million to build the centre and we are going to end up with a £6 million world class veterans orthopaedic centre at our hospital site.

"This is a significant development for Robert Jones and a really exciting time.

"The ability to build things for the NHS in the next period is going to be really difficult because capital is really tight, and so without the charity donation which has paid for all of it we just wouldn't be able to do it.

How the Headley Court Veterans' Centre could look

"I'm very fortunate as a chief executive to have this facility being planned and then built later this year hopefully.

"Many chief executives won't get that opportunity, given how difficult capital is to acquire.

"It's an important time because we need to continue to expand and develop our services.

"We aspire to world class patient care. This is part of that world class-ness in terms of what it is we are trying to do."

The new veterans centre will be built as an extension to the outpatient department.

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 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.

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