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Trust introduces schemes to support the Armed Forces staff, providing them with opportunities to attend training and receiving the Employer Recognition Award

Challenge

    • Recognise and value the transferable skills of leadership and planning which reservists bring into the organisation
    • Ensure that staff from the Armed Forces community are supported, contributing to the established workforce network

Action

    • Signed up the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA) to provide best practices for reservists
    • Embedded a mobilised 10-day leave policy for them to attend annual camps
    • Created an Armed Forces Staff Network to promote guaranteed job interview schemes aiding deployment
    • Worked closely with local field hospitals and military units to fill skill gaps in specific specialties

Result

    • Received the Gold Defence Recognition Scheme Award with recognition for excellence in supporting armed forces talent
    • Additional leaves enabled veterans to attend training without feeling disadvantaged
    • Employed 39 active reservists, 41 veterans and five cadet force adult volunteers

Synopsis:

Newcastle Hospitals recognises the valuable contribution that veterans and reservists make to the Armed Forces, the community and the Trust itself. We have pledged our support through various means such as signing the covenant, achieving the Gold Defence Employer recognition scheme award and signing up to the Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA). We employ 39 active reservists, the highest number in the North East as well as 41 veterans and 5 cadet force adult volunteers.

We have a supportive, wellembedded mobilisation policy, grant reservists with 10 days additional leave to attend annual camp and ensure that staff who are part of the AF community, have an opportunity to contribute to and drive forward change through our newly established staff network.

In 2018, we were awarded the gold defence employer recognition scheme award, the highest accolade, by HRH Duke of Wessex at Lancaster House London, one of only 18 NHS organisation nationally to have receive the privilege.

We were also recognised at the CIPD NE Awards for our excellence in supporting armed forces talent. We are active members in the Newcastle Armed Forces Forum which is hosted by the city council and brings together units, employers and businesses to ensure that the AF community are not disadvantaged and are supported.

Ambitions:

Newcastle Hospitals pride ourselves on being a supportive employer. In a region with a strong military history and with the Trust being so close to the 201 Field Hospital, we felt that we had an obligation to support our staff who are part of the community to serve and contribute to our reserve forces.

As an organisation we recognise and value the transferable skills which reservists can bring into the organisation such as leadership and planning. Following the achievement of the Gold Defence Recognition Scheme award, we recognised that to move the agenda forward and to ensure that it was fully embedded and benefiting our reservists, they needed to be at the heart of it and leading the way.

We have already found great success in our other staff networks and therefore, after consultation with our reservists, veteran and CFAVs, a Armed Forces Staff Network would be the most efficient and effective forum to do this.

Outcomes:

We are proud as an organisation to have delivered a range of benefits and outcomes in support of our reservists, primarily the creation of a dedicated Armed Forces Staff Network led by our staff. The purpose of the network is to give the Armed Forces community a voice within the organisation.

A voice which will help to mould the future of our ‘Forces Friendly’ organisation by reviewing our offering and providing valuable insight into future considerations. Others include: - Guaranteed Job Interview Scheme for reservists who meet the minimum criteria - Removal of ‘NHS Experience’ within the essential criteria on job descriptions - Additional 10 days annual leave to attend training and or annual camp.

Option of managers discretion to support further leave.

- Supportive mobilisation policy which ensures that both managers and staff understand what is required before, during and after deployment.

- Supportive special leave policy to grant spouses/partners/families of serving reservists to take additional leave before, after and during deployment.

- Champion Dyad

- Medical Director and Non-Executive Director are our executive sponsors

- Dedicated HR link for advice, guidance and support in relation to our ‘Force Friendly’ agenda

- Dedicated webpage on our Careers Website

Spread:

We ensure that all staff are treat fairly by promotion or AF agenda through various social media campaigns and internal briefings. Our HR staff also aware of the policy and are there to support both staff and managers with implementation.

We also utilise the AF Staff Network, to review our processes and offering and seek feedback from those in the AF community as to whether they are working effectively or not. Each year, the reservist units in the region come along to our Staff Benefits Festival where they are able to meet over 1500 of our staff to promote the reserve forces and the support the Trust offers.

We were the first NHS Organisation in the region to develop a dedicated Reserve Forces Training and Mobilisation policy and formed the basis of all other NHS organisation reservist policies as well as the NHS Employers policy template.

We have supported the Business Services Authority and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Trust by sharing best practice and offering our support such as sharing our successes with their board to encourage advocacy. We are active members of the NHS Employers AF Network which allows us to share best practice with other organisations.

Value:

The Trust has benefited from supporting the Armed Forces both in terms of reputation and operationally. Our patients are able to see that we recognise and value the contribution the Armed Forces play in our community and our part in that as an NHS organisation.

We are able to work closely with the local field hospitals and military units to fill skill gaps in specific specialties. As part of this we also offer honorary contracts to those in the regular forces to maintain and develop their clinical skills and likewise, we benefit greatly from the transferable skills and expertise those in the reserve forces bring into the organisation, specifically in relation to emergency care, leadership, planning and strategy.

One of our Reservists, Rachel Hawes, was awarded an OBE in June 2018 for her work in bringing lessons learned from the military back to the NHS. Reservists benefit each year by being supported to attend their training and their families are given flexibility before, during and after deployment.

The network allows them to contribute to the future of our ‘Forces Friendly’ culture and shape how we continue to benefit reservists. Each year on reservists day, we hold an executive lunch where our board thank our reservists for their contribution and commitment.

Involvement:

We have a champion dyad which consists of a management champion, clinical champion and HR Lead. We have great support from the board with the previous chairman signing the Trust up to VCHA, one of our Non-Executive Directors is our named clinical champion and is also an honorary Colonel within the Army and armed force engagement is a key part of the HR and Workforce strategy.

The champions work together to promote the forces and to ensure that both staff and patients are supported. Our CEO will also be in attendance at the Queens Parade in London this year, representing the organisation as a Gold award Defence Employer Recognition Award holder.

We have established strong links with several AF charities such as Forward Assist, Officer Association and RBLI. We support RBLI by running mock interviews for veterans as part of the LifeWorks programme and have since 2016.

Our Leadership Development Programme is open to all senior NHS leaders across the North East and includes a two day session called ‘Learning from the Forces’. The sessions provided participants the opportunity to learn some of the well-recognised and respected leadership skills which the British Armed Forces use, their processes for efficient planning and crisis management, enhanced communication skills and gain an increased understanding of resilience, leadership and teamwork.

Categories

Focus of improvement

Support service (non-clinical)

Type of organisation

Year