© UK MOD Crown Copyright 2020

Armed Forces

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is a Veteran Aware  organisation in recognition of our commitment to improving NHS care for the Armed Forces Community which includes regulars, reservist personnel, veterans, bereaved family members, spouses and family members. Our Trust also holds a Gold Award for the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme meaning we support the Armed Forces Community (regulars, reservist personnel, veterans, bereaved family members, spouses and family members) as an employer.

Our Trust currently offers our Armed Forces Community:

  • 10 days paid special Leave for Reservists and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers 
  • Strong framework to support mobilisation of Reservists 
  • Flexibility in granting leave for service spouses and partners before, during and after a partner’s deployment.
  • Positive employment practices.Veteran Aware Logo

At the Trust we are proud to employ and support an increasing number of service leavers, reservists, cadet adult volunteers and Armed Forces families.


Armed forces covenant

Nottinghamshire Healthcare has been a long supporter of the Armed Forces Community and originally signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2015 and re-signed it again in June 2021. The pledge is shared across organisations based on a promise to those who protect our nation, who do so with honour, courage and commitment.  The pledge is together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities they serve with their lives.

Watch our senior leaders re-commit to the Armed Forces Covenant

In signing the Covenant, we are committed to upholding the key principles of the Covenant which are:

  • No member of the Armed Forces Community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen
  • In some circumstances special treatment may be appropriate especially for the injured or bereaved.


Defence Employer Recognition Scheme

The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) encourages employers to support defence and in addition we advocate support to defence people issues to partner organisation’s regionally and nationally.

In supporting the Armed Forces agenda and keeping it current, we are proud of the relationships we have built with the following:

  • East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadet Association and Regional Employers Engagement Group
  • Nottinghamshire County Council Civil and Military Partnership Board,
  • NHS Employers, Step into Health programme, East Midlands Armed Forces Network and subsequently Community Connection
  • Nottingham University Hospitals Trust and Sherwood Forest Hospital Trust our local acute hospitals.


Employers Recognition Scheme - Gold Award

Gold Award

We are proud to hold the ‘Gold Award’ for our continued support to the Armed Forces community.

To demonstrate our on-going commitment, we have the following practice embedded into our organisation:

  • Clear written HR Policies & guidance supporting Reservist mobilisation and additional leave of 10 days to support annual camp training.
  • Employing from Military community we are engaged with CTP and associated job boards
  • Fully engaged with Regional Employer Engagement Director (REED).
  • Communicate with members of Armed Forces in our workforce and advocate our support both internally and externally
  • Raise awareness of our support through social media

Support national campaigns e.g. Armed Forces Day, Reserves Day, Remembrance Day.


Step Into Health 

step into health

We work in partnership with NHS Employers Step into Health programme, giving servicemen and women a career pathway and the opportunity to experience working in the NHS.

We recognise the transferable skills and cultural values that the Armed Forces community develop, and how they are compatible with those required within NHS roles.

We welcome job applications from the Armed Forces community, including military spouses, and are committed to providing a supportive environment throughout your career with us when they transition from the military into civilian employment.

For further information about careers in the NHS Working in health | Health Careers  or Take our careers quiz | Health Careers .

For further information about the NHS Employers’ Step into Health programme, please visit the Transition into an NHS career | Step Into Health (militarystepintohealth.nhs.uk) .

If you are currently employed in the armed forces and interested in exploring future employment opportunities at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, why not check out of vacancies today.

If you are interested in the Step into Health programme and would like to find out more, email Harjit Schweitzer at Harjit.Schweitzer@nottshc.nhs.uk

Simon’s story

simon ralls Simon Ralls is a Clinical Nurse Specialist for Veterans and has worked at the Trust for 30 years. He joined the Royal Navy straight from school to follow a career in engineering and to have the opportunity to travel. Hear from Simon as he talks about his time in the Royal Navy and what made him choose a career in the NHS.

Simon’s story:

I trained in the Royal Navy as a Marine Engineering Mechanic (Mechanical), more affectionately known as a Stoker.  Marine Engineers are specialist technical professionals who design, develop, build, install, inspect and maintain the propulsion systems, engines, pumps and other pieces of technical equipment that make ships and submarines function effectively.

Marine Engineers played an intrinsic role in the ship’s firefighting and damage control teams that were required to respond to any eventuality that may occur whilst at sea.

What is your role and what made you decide to work for the NHS?

My mum was an NHS nurse during the whole of her adult life, only retiring when she was 72, which still amazes me to this day. She was the inspiration for me to follow in her footsteps as she always spoke so fondly of her time working in her various NHS nursing roles. I’d tried my hand at other jobs after leaving the Royal Navy (working as a civil servant, in a building society and as a postman) but none of them captured the spirit of the armed forces.

I feel very lucky to be employed as a Clinical Nurse Specialist for Veterans working within Offender Health. I work as part of the Veteran Care Through Custody project which was developed following reports that prison services offered were affected by a limited understanding of the background and specific needs of veteran offenders.  

The project has been developed to honour the commitments enshrined in the Armed Forces Covenant, which the Trust is currently looking to renew, and to provide services to veterans in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire prisons that are equivalent to those serves provided in the community.

Nottinghamshire Health’s Veteran Care Through Custody project is currently working with 2 veteran Charities Care After Combat and Project Nova as part of a pathfinder called Regroup. The pathfinder supports veterans who find themselves in the Criminal Justice System, prior to sentencing, whilst in prison and post sentence. The aim is to support a reduction in the re-offending rates of military veterans. The pathfinder is led by Dr Janes Jones who is the Trust’s Clinical / Project Lead for Veterans.


Members of Regroup attending an NHS Veterans Conference. Simon (left), Dr Jane Jones, Trust Clinical/Project Lead for Veterans (centre) joined by representatives from Care after Combat, Project Nova and NHS England.

How does your NHS work compare to your work you undertook in the Armed Forces?

Whilst many of the qualities required to undertake my role as a Marine Engineer transferred to my nursing career the actual jobs themselves are best summed up as chalk and cheese. In the Royal Navy I spent most of my time wearing overalls, spanners in hand whilst covered in oil and diesel; it’s not something I’ve found myself doing in the NHS. If you would have told me back then that I would have gone on to become a nurse I would have probably laughed but over 30 years later here I am.

What qualities and skills have been transferable to life working in the NHS?

The military teaches you to use effective communication skills and to work well within a team which are qualities that are required to work effectively within the NHS. Record keeping was key in military life and is crucial in nursing. Effective time keeping, attention to detail and above all else a good sense of humour have translated well from the Royal Navy to working in the NHS.

In what ways have you been supported by the Trust as a veteran/reservist?

I’ve been supported to utilise my military background to work with armed forces veterans for the past ten years within the Criminal Justice System, which in turn led me to apply for my current role.

Have you supported the work in the vaccination centres? If so, what was your involvement?

I applied to be part of the team implementing the vaccination programme at Kings Mill Hospital but unfortunately, I have had to be part of the shielding cohort. I plan to reapply now that shielding has ended to support this important programme.

I’d recommend a career in the NHS to military veterans as there is a diversity of roles that can utilise many of the skills learned whilst serving in the armed forces. 

Angela’s story

Angela HollandI thought nothing more about the Territorial Army (now known as the Army Reserves) following my trip to Australia. However, a seed had been planted, says Angela. I have a weight issue and started to lose weight doing a lot of running and fitness classes after I returned home. The Army started its ‘Be The Best’ advertising campaign and because I was getting fitter, I wondered if I was fit enough to join.  I was a jewellery repairer and designer at the time, but I love to explore and to learn new things. Being offered the opportunity to train to become a Combat Medical Technician (CMT) as an Army Reservist was very exciting. My CMT role has gone on to shape and direct my civilian career into the NHS.

What made you decide to work for the NHS and what is your role?

Because of my CMT work, I applied to work for East Midland Ambulance Service. However, I have always had an interest in finding out more about research and how evidence-based practice informs the way we do things within the NHS. I would hear about clinical trials and changes that had been made because of those trials and wanted to get more involved. The ambulance service tends to a lot of patients with mental health issues and I wanted to be part of a team that helped to improve mental health and wellbeing services for patients and staff within the NHS. I applied for my job as a Research Delivery Assistant (RDA), based at the Institute of Mental Health, last year and started in January 2021.

How does your NHS work compare to your work you undertook in the Armed Forces?

My civilian job role and working environment is very different to my army role, especially if I’m on exercise and living in the field. Responsibilities for CMTs can include supplying medical support on all kinds of operations and exercises: giving first aid on a battlefield, helping with medical evacuations in hostile conditions, working in primary healthcare or occupational health, providing medical training and health education to the wider army. You have to be more aware of the natural environment and the weather during army work and training because you are exposed and vulnerable to it, but your training helps you to prepare and adapt to this. 

Angela HollandI’m currently a member of 212 Field Hospital Army Reserve unit. Our hospital has a 200 bed capacity and can operate almost anywhere in the world at short notice and is sustained by drivers, chefs, healthcare assistants, specialist nurses, doctors, operating department practitioners, trauma surgeons, antitheists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, radiographers, biomedical technicians, and many more. When deployed we have similar types of equipment you would find in any NHS hospital but instead of walls, we have green canvased tentage that link together to make our hospital the size we need. Our hospital is stored in ISO containers and we help build or dismantle our hospital. Whilst this is happening, we may still have to treat patients. Sleeping accommodation is in the form of a sleeping bag on camp beds under green tented canvas or on a roll mat under a basher. If we have the use of a field kitchen, we can get amazing food from the army chefs. If that is not available, we use 10 person rations or individual 24-hour ration boxes that we warm up ourselves. 

What qualities and skills have been transferable to life working in the NHS?

Although being a CMT is very different to being a RDA, the training you get in the Armed Forces is varied and very transferable. In the army, you are taught to be a soldier first, to be self-reliant in looking after yourself, especially living in the field, but to also took out for your team – ‘a buddy-buddy system’. Army training is structured and reliable, this is really important when your working environment could change at short notice or you find yourself in an unfamiliar situation. Because of this, you learn to be organised and pro-active. You are taught the importance of listening and follow orders. Then as you progress up the army ranks, you learn management skills. You can command and control any situation by giving out structured orders and delegate tasks to your team. You learn about the responsibilities that come with your job role and that people rely on you to do your best, to ‘Be The Best’ for your team. You train and live in extreme situations, learn to adapt quickly, become resilient and all these skills matter when working for the NHS during a global pandemic.

Have you supported the work in the vaccination centres? If so, what was your involvement?

The Institute of Mental Health is a partnership between Nottinghamshire Healthcare and the University of Nottingham and has a catalogue of their own study trials. Normally, I would be trained to work on some of those studies but due to the global pandemic, I have been dispatched to help work on Urgent Public Health Covid-19 study trials as they are a priority at the moment. I am currently supporting work on the ‘Comparing COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule Combinations’ (Com-COV) study trial and will soon be helping with the Medicago vaccine study trial.

In what ways have you been supported by the Trust as a veteran/reservist?

My manager Julie Mernick, Senior Research Delivery Nurse for the Research Delivery Team at the Institute of Mental Health, has never had a colleague that is a member of the Army Reserves. Julie is very interested, supportive and has been very accommodating in giving me leave to accommodate my reservist training, despite the fact I only started working with the Trust in January this year. 

The Trust has several documents and policies that supports colleagues that are members of the Armed Forces and promotes flexibility for any employee that needs to attend annual training. 

Brian’s story

Brian Bonner My father served in the Navy as a mechanical engineer and my sister as an administrator. My brother was a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Irish Guards, so it was my turn.

I joined the Royal Air Force initially as a driver but had to re-muster to be a chef due to my colour blindness causing difficulty.

My first posting was to RAF Hendon next to the RAF museum, then onto RAF Stanbridge air transit hotel, Ascension Island; RAF Coningsby 29 squadron and where the Battle of Britain memorial flight was stationed.

I worked mostly in officers’ mess environments and on several aircraft squadrons with some overseas travel to Cyprus, the Far East to name a couple of “great times”.

As all chefs at the time we were trained and assigned to mobile field catering units to deploy at short notice to anywhere that the RAF was needed. The teamwork and friendship throughout my service was brilliant and something I haven’t experienced since.

I then spent 6 years as a reservist and 6 years teaching the Royal Air Force cadets where I took my commission.

What made you decide to work for the NHS and what is your role?

I re-located back to the East Midlands in March from the New Forest where I was working in a facilities management role with a care provider supporting our more mature citizens with Dementia and fulfilling their lives and the team working with me.

I really got a tremendous amount of satisfaction and challenge from this role which was a huge change from my normal employment.

I took up the position as facilities coordinator for the new Sherwood Oaks project within the Trust’s mental health services in February 2021 and I am currently supporting this and other smaller projects as required.

Brian Bonner How does your NHS work compare to your work you undertook in the Armed Forces?

It’s completely different in some ways but being part of a larger organisation suits me better with opportunities and freedom to internally promote myself and others and, where applicable, utilise my skills.

I have a great deal of experience in hospitality, business consultancy and facilities management. I also kept my skills as a chef active with experience gained in menu and food development and NVQ development whilst contracting for the Ministry of Defence (MOD). During my time contracting for the MOD I supported nominated individuals on resettling from service life into civilian life to the service/hospitality sector.

What qualities and skills have been transferable to life working in the NHS?

Time keeping, Respectfulness, Appearance.

I have also learned to be more patient with people and understanding to individual needs where a “one cap fits all” scenario is not always the case.

In what ways have you been supported by the Trust as a veteran/reservist?

As I only started in February 2021 the opportunities have not presented themselves as yet but there are several people who have the same shared experiences.

Samantha's story

"My Dad was a Royal Engineer in the Army for 24 years and I was born in a British Military Hospital in Germany, so the Army was my entire world for the same 24 years” explains Samantha.Samantha Palmer's story

I’m now an admin team leader but started as a temp and then worked as a medical secretary for 18 years – next year will be my 20th anniversary with the Trust. I wanted to work for an organisation with a purpose and that cared for people – basically like the Army but without having to join up and go into combat!

I may not have “served” in the Army, but it was my entire life for over two decades – and now I have done two decades in the NHS. The two lives compare in that you are conscious of change, being able to constantly adapt to new situations and seeing people come in and out of your life all of the time.

I think my life in the Army gave me a resilience that many people don’t have. An ‘Army brat’ or any service child experiences more loss and change in their lives than most at a very early age, we learn quickly to let go, protect ourselves and move forward. It has taught us to live life to the fullest and appreciate what you have while it is present. All of these I think are essential and powerful attributes to have and bring into the NHS.


Top image © UK MOD Crown Copyright 2020