NHS staff swapping the front-line for the battlefield

NHS staff who swap the frontline of health care for the battlefield are encouraging others to sign up.

Pharmacists, radiologists and other health staff from Nottingham are regularly asked to change from scrubs into fatigues to help care for armed forces all over the globe.

Staff from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust are supported to serve as armed forces reserves and say there’s benefits for staff and the organisation.

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Army reservist Annie Owusu, a radiographer at Queen’s Medical Centre, said: “Balancing military and civilian life isn’t as difficult as people may think, primarily because you are mainly serving in your spare time and any time taken off work is worthwhile as there is so much exposure to different opportunities, learning new skills from adventure training to career development courses.

“I would encourage people to join the reserves as part of their own professional development. You will be able to practise your skills in a variety of different environments and get an increasingly diversified experience when compared to your normal civilian job.

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“Alternatively, there is the opportunity to go on a career path that is completely different from a civilian job. As an army reservist, you have the opportunity to essentially carve your own career path, challenge yourself and push yourself to limits you never know were possible”

NUH is celebrating the commitment of Annie and others as part of Reserves Day, highlighting the work of the reservists who balance their military lives with their NHS jobs. The day coincides with a wider national recruitment drive and aims to improve public appreciation for reservists.

Christine Woolley, Human Resources lead for Reservists at NUH, said: “Having reservists as staff members is surprisingly beneficial for our organisation.

“We find that reservists often grow in confidence and capability as a result of their military role and find themselves more willing to leave their comfort zone when it comes to their civilian lives. NUH will continue to support staff members who decide to join the reserves as they show bravery, commitment and a sense of adventure; all attributes that are highly valued in our organisation.”

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NUH provides an additional eight days of annual leave on top of normal allocations to help support reservists. Reserves Day hopes to encourage other employers to be more accommodating.

Reservists give on average only 27 days of their year to the Reserves and are expected to only check in with their unit once a month. The relatively small amount of time committed to the Reserves is offset with free training, camps and events.

Reserves make up around one sixth of the Armed Forces and are playing an increasingly important role in the British military as the numbers of full time regular forces are being reduced.

NUH currently has over ten serving Army reservists and one Royal Navy reservist.

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Luke Dowdeswell, a pharmacist and Army reservist at QMC, said: “The opportunities for travel, making new friends and taking part in sports such as skiing, rock climbing and sky diving make it a no brainer for me.

“Anyone can drop by an army recruiting centre for more information without any obligation to commit and speak to the staff there for further information about life in the Army reserves.”