The Duchess of Edinburgh has officially opened The Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre, the NHS’s first orthopaedic centre entirely dedicated to military veterans.
On Tuesday, 4 April, Her Royal Highness arrived at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, the Shropshire facility that houses the new centre. There, she was welcomed by Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, the person behind the idea for the structure, Stacey Keegan, Chief Executive of the Centre, and Harry Turner, Chair of the Trust board.
The Duchess was given a tour of the facility, a two-storey building created to specifically respond to the unique necessities represented by orthopaedic military veteran patients. She also had a chance to speak with the staff in the facility and across the trust, who gave her an account of what the centre aims to achieve and the services it will provide.
The structure includes standard examination and clinic rooms, treatment rooms for “minor outpatient procedures,” a splinting and therapy room, an assessment room, space for virtual appointments, and the Veteran’s Hub, located at the entrance.
The latter is a safe space where veterans can seek support on matters like homelessness, financial literacy and debt management, welfare and benefits, as well as seek counselling for PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a common issue for many soldiers, especially those who came back from war zones).
There is also room on the second floor for teaching and staff training classrooms, clinical research spaces and offices for the administrative staff.
Before leaving the centre, the Duchess of Edinburgh unveiled a plaque commemorating her presence in the structure for the opening.
The Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre began as an idea in the mind of Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, a consulting orthopaedic surgeon who, in 2014, launched the Veterans’ Orthopaedic Service.
In 2018, he opened the fundraising to build the structure, which ended up costing £6m, which poured in from the Headley Court Charity, hence the name of the new structure. Hadley Court used to be the main treatment structure for military veterans before most services were passed onto a structure at Standford Hall, and Hadley Court became a charity.
Harry Turner, the Chairman of the Trust board of the new centre, said: ”Thank you to the Headley Court Charity for their immense support, as well as understanding what we are setting out to achieve.”