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UK’s first dedicated centre for veteran orthopaedic care officially open for business at RJAH

Healthcare provision for veteran patients has taken a momentous leap forward after a special ribbon cutting event took place on Friday 11 November at Shropshire’s specialist orthopaedic hospital – celebrating the UK’s first dedicated orthopaedic centre for veterans being officially open for business. 

The pioneering Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre, which has been built by local contractor Pave Aways, onsite at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) following a £6 million donation from The Headley Court Charity.

To symbolise the exciting beginning of a new era for care for veterans, the ribbon was cut by Anna Turner JP, Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire; Michael Debens, Trustee of the Headley Court Charity; and Air Vice Marshal Anthony J. Stables, Chair of The Headley Court Charity.

As the ribbon was cut, a guard of honour was led by Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, and Rebecca Warren, Vaccination Service Operational Manager alongside RJAH staff representing different NHS professions. Both Carl and Rebecca are serving reservists in 202 Field Hospital.

The soft launch opening ribbon cutting event followed a special Remembrance Day Service outside the state-of-the-art building at the Oswestry-based hospital.

A small number of local dignitaries and supporters of the project gathered to mark this momentous occasion.

Lt Col Meyer, who started the Veterans’ Orthopaedic Service back in 2014, said: “The soft launch opening of the Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre is a day I have long dreamt about, even before our fundraising appeal launched in October 2018.

“For a number of years, we have talked about veterans being seen in an environment that brings comfort to them and by clinical teams that have an understanding of military personnel and their unique needs. This is now reality, which marks the beginning of a new era of bespoke care for our veteran patients and members of the Armed Forces.

“Thanks must go to The Headley Court Charity for their amazingly generous grant, for believing in what we’re doing here and ultimately supporting our long-term vision for world class veterans’ healthcare.”

The £6 million two-storey building features nine standard examination and clinic rooms, an enhanced treatment room for minor outpatient procedures, an assessment room, a splinting and therapy room, as well as clinic space for virtual appointments.

In the main entrance of the building, there is a café and dedicated Veterans’ Hub where Shropshire Council and various military charities will provide support to veteran patients and their family and friends, with issues that range from homelessness, finance, debt management, welfare, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), benefits and more.

The upstairs of the centre includes dedicated research offices, clinical teaching and training space for staff, a multi-disciplinary team room, and an office for admin staff.

Harry Turner, RJAH Chair, said: “What a proud moment for us to celebrate the country’s first dedicated orthopaedic centre for veterans being open for business. This building is going to make a huge difference to our veteran and serving personnel patients, who deserve the very best standards of care.

“Thank you to the Headley Court Charity for their immense support, as well as understanding what we are setting out to achieve.”

Stacey Keegan, Chief Executive at RJAH, said: “This milestone has been a long time coming and I am an extremely proud Chief Executive knowing that we have opened the UK’s first dedicated NHS veterans’ orthopaedic centre, expanding on the already excellent Veterans’ Orthopaedic Service.

“I echo Harry’s gratitude to the Headley Court Charity, but I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the individuals, organisations and members of the community who backed this vision by donating and raising funds when we initially launched the appeal.”

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. Following the move, the Headley Court Charity were looking for worthy causes in keeping with their ethos and aims to support in the form of charitable grants.

Following the multi-million-pound grant, it was decided the new facility will be known as the Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre.

Mr Stables of the Headley Court Charity said: “We are delighted as Trustees to support the outstanding work of this hospital by providing this unique and new unit.

“I would pay tribute to those that had the vision to create this centre, to those who planned it, to those who constructed it, to those people who will staff and manage it, to the Chairman, the Board, the Friends and everybody who supported this project. Thank you very much indeed.” 

The soft launch opening event will be followed by an official opening ceremony taking place in spring 2023.

Photo captions:

  • VOC Soft Launch-128: Members of RJAH staff outside the new building with Air Vice Marshal Anthony J. Stables, Chair of The Headley Court Charity; Michael Debens, Trustee of the Headley Court Charity; Anna Turner JP, Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire; Stacey Keegan, RJAH Chief Executive; and Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Clinical Lead for the Veterans’ Orthopaedic Service and Staff Reservist.  
  • VOC Soft Launch-121: Air Vice Marshal Anthony J. Stables, Chair of The Headley Court Charity; Michael Debens, Trustee of the Headley Court Charity; and Anna Turner JP, Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire; cutting the ribbon to officially open the Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre.
  • VOC Soft Launch-113: Stacey Keegan, RJAH Chief Executive, at the opening of the Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre.
  • 07-11-2022_Pave_Aways_RJAH-57: The Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre.
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