GOBOWEN'S Orthopaedic Hospital will be the UK's first dedicated centre for Armed Forces veterans is to be built in Shropshire – thanks to a remarkable £6million charitable grant.

The news was announced at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital (RJAH) to packed room of dignitaries and supporters, including the RJAH League of Friends.

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, which 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.

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.

Mark Brandreth, chief executive at RJAH, said: “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.

“We will still require fundraising support, to be able to continue enhancing the service in the future. We hope that fantastic support carries on.”

The new facility will be known as the Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre and Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, a serving Army Officer who is also a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at RJAH, admitted his delight at the news.

“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 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others.

The upstairs of the centre will feature dedicated research offices, training space for staff, a multi-disciplinary team room, and an office for administration 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, who started the meeting thanking groups such as the League of Friends after their £100,000 donation started the appeal, 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.”