October 15th 2020

Gold ERS Awards demonstrate that the Health sector and the Armed Forces are natural allies

Major Angela Laycock planning the NHS Nightingale hospital at Birmingham NEC

Major Angela Laycock planning NHS Nightingale Hospital

Recent events have clearly demonstrated the ways in which the Health sector and the Armed Forces can work together to achieve common goals. But before Covid, the relationship was already thriving.

Covid 19 has publicly demonstrated where the dynamic, logistical skills of the Armed services can support the national health responsibilities of the NHS.  But this is not something new; behind the scenes, many of our local health trusts have recognised their responsibility to provide services specific to ex-service personnel and Reserves, and also that the skills offered by these individuals are ideally suited to working in the health sector.

Army assisting at a Covid-19 test centre.

Army personnel assisting at a COVID-19 test centre.

This year in the East Midlands, two NHS organisations and one private business in the health sector have been awarded Gold Employer Recognition Scheme Awards for their work in supporting the Armed Forces.  To achieve this, they must meet some essential criteria, such as employing at least one individual from the Armed Forces community; providing 10 days additional leave for Reserves training and advocating support for Defence to partner organisations, amongst other things. Most Gold winners go above and beyond this because they see the value in doing so.

Common goals and values for the benefit of the community

Alex Ridley, Human Resources Manager at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NFHT), commented on employing Veterans and Reservists:  “The specific skill set and values that these individuals can bring to our organisation align with our Trust values, which are centred around working together, being authentic, embracing change and taking responsibility.”

As a service provider, NFHT is committed to providing fast track access to Mental Health services for Veterans through GP services and self-referral within a two week period.  The Trust is also an active member of the Northamptonshire Armed Forces Covenant Partnership Board, and is an accredited Veteran Aware Trust. It has taken part in Army leadership courses, helping staff understand the role of the Reservist and its value.

A sister organisation, NHS Northamptonshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), was also awarded Gold this year. They are strong advocates for the Armed Forces Covenant, and have appointed an Armed Forces Lead who attends seminars and conferences, presenting on the health services available to the Armed Forces and the issues they face when transitioning from the military. The CCG has also provided GPs with training in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to help them identify Veterans and their families who may benefit from support.  As a result, GPs across Northamptonshire have increased their registration of Veterans and members of the Armed Forces by 539%.

Sarah Stansfield, Deputy Chief Executive at NHS Northamptonshire CCG, said: “We are very proud to have been awarded a Gold Award within the Defence and Employer Recognition Scheme. As an organisation, we have continually supported our military community and to reflect this signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2013.

“As part of this, we have implemented policies that support Reservists, Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, veterans and family members across the county and we have committed to continuously supporting our military family in the workplace.”

Private sector health sector sees value in military skill sets

One To One Support Services meet the Army.

One To One Support Services meet the Army.

Whilst the public sector might seem a natural fit for support for the Armed Forces, the private sector has demonstrated it has a good deal to offer – and to benefit from – too.  One To One Support Services in Chesterfield are specialists in delivering high-quality support, specialising in older person’s services, disability/special needs, Children’s Services and multi-sensory impairments.  They have an internal network that ensures all staff understand their support for Defence people, including military families. They employ three ex-military personnel and one Cadet Force Adult Volunteer.

One To One Support Services signing the Armed Forces Covenant

One To One Support Services signing the Armed Forces Covenant

Melanie Ulyatt, Managing Director, said:  “One to One Support Services strives to support the Defence Community by providing opportunities and removing potential barriers to embrace Veterans, ex-military personnel and Reservists who become equal members and assets to the team and complement the diversity of the company.”

There is a symbiotic relationship between the health sector and the Armed Forces, with one both dependent, and supportive of, the other.  The common goals and experiences of working in a large and complex organisation, contributing to society and supporting local communities, ensure that teamwork and camaraderie are at the heart of both. Long may this healthy relationship continue to thrive.

Find out more about how your organisation can benefit from supporting and working with Defence personnel.

"Our Trust values are centred around working together, being authentic, embracing change and taking responsibility.” Alex Ridley, HR Manager, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust