South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust joined its partner in the South Tyneside and Healthcare Group, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, in signing the Government’s Armed Forces Covenant.
South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trusts’ chief executive Ken Bremner signed the covenant at a ceremony alongside Deputy Commander 4 Infantry Brigade Colonel Andrew Hadfield.
They were watched by South Tyneside Trust employee reservists, an adult cadet volunteer, board members including trust chairman Neil Mundy, and representatives from the Ministry of Defence, including Commanding Officer of 201 Field Hospital, Newcastle, Ben Banerjee, consultant vascular surgeon at City Hospitals Sunderland.
Mr Bremner said: “Both of our trusts are totally committed to supporting the armed forces community and it is an honour to formally pledge South Tyneside Trust’s support through the signing of the covenant. We are very much looking forward to building on our association with the Ministry of Defence in the future.
“The NHS, businesses, local authorities, charities and community organisations throughout the UK can all benefit from the wide range of unique skills and experiences that reservists and veterans can bring to the workplace, coupled with the self-confidence, resourcefulness and positive attitude they gain through service in the forces. We already employ a number of veterans and are looking at initiatives that will provide work placement opportunities and guaranteed interviews, where they have skills that match a role.”
The two trusts currently have 17 employees who are reservists within the Armed Forces, including the Army and Royal Navy, as well as an adult volunteer with the RAF Air Cadets.
Medical reservists make up 13% of the overall reserves in the UK.
The covenant represents a promise by the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust staff governor Jamie Hughes, who works in wheelchair services, volunteers with the RAF Air Cadets at 324 (South Shields) Squadron as a Pilot Officer.
He said: “It’s important that we recognise the fantastic work our armed forces do and support staff within the trust who are in the reserve and cadet forces to carry out their role.”