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when they leave the services. One of the key challenges for all those who work to implement the Armed Forces Covenant, including the RAF Families Federation Covenant Managers, is the sheer breadth of issues that it encompasses.

It’s not all about finding school places for children, although this remains a hugely important issue for families. Different issues can affect different groups at different times in their lives. For single personnel it might be fairness in mobile phone contracts or not being penalised in insurance policies for living in the block. For service leavers of any age it might be better access to employment or training. Some issues are so niche that they affect very few numbers of personnel or their families. However,where we are aware of them we can work with the relevant organisations to address them.

Often the small changes make big differences but are so behind the scenes that we never fully appreciate them. One example is the introduction of NHS numbers for service personnel and establishing aprocess for automatic transfer of health records on leaving the services. It is difficult to make it sound interesting or relevant and yet this will make ahuge difference to ahuge number of service leavers finally bringing closer together Defence Medical Services and the NHS to ensure there is continuity of care for everyone, not just those who leave the services with serious and enduring medical conditions.

Jo Wilkinson.

In fact, working with NHS England is one of the great success stories of the RAF Families Federation and the covenant. Together we have established effective partnerships that make areal difference to families. In many cases when families raise ahealth-related issue with us we have been able to resolve the issue by working closely with our colleagues at the NHS England Armed Forces Commissioning team who, in turn work with the local NHS trust to resolve the situation. On behalf of Health Education England, the RAF FF,inpartnership with the Naval and Army Families Federations have written an e-learning training package for health professionals which highlight the issues for service families in accessing NHS services. The e-learning package

will be launched in the summer and has Continuing Professional Development credits attached to it so that health professionals have an even bigger incentive to participate.

In this day and age of great cynicism about politics and politicians it’s easy to be dismissive of the Covenant. There will always be people for whom things don’t work out as they want. The great flaw in policy is often how it is put into practice by people. However, Ifeel we should be genuinely positive about the impact the covenant is having. Five years on, the good will and commitment across countless organisations to provide afair deal for service personnel and their families remains strong.

The RAF FF’s Covenant Team The RAF FF has two Regional Covenant Managers (soon to be three). Their roles are to promote the Covenant amongst RAF units, RAF personnel and their families and work with local authorities and other external organisations to share information and good practice and raise covenant related issues. If you would like more information or advice about how the Covenant may be relevant to you or your organisation please contact them – covenant.asp

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