NHS launches drive to recruit armed forces veterans

The NHS is stepping up a national campaign to recruit former members of the Armed Forces who want to join the health service and offer their valuable skills to caring for patients.

Running until March 2025, the new NHS Long Term Workforce Plan drive will encourage serving and retired armed forces personnel and their families to consider a career in one of the 14 allied health professions on offer in the health service. Universities across England will host a series of open days across the country, who will use innovative technology to give attendees a virtual, real-time insight into some of the different careers on offer.

The first event will showcase careers in occupational therapy and will be hosted by Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and broadcast across five different university campuses.

Attendees will be able to watch an occupational therapist treat patients in real time from the point of view of the clinician who is wearing a digital headset. A second clinician will describe what their colleague is doing through a separate audio feed.

Each year at least 12,000 military personnel leave their roles in the armed forces for a variety of reasons, with many of them looking to switch career after completing their service.

Their transferable skills, including leadership, resilience and compassion, leave them with much to offer the NHS, and many already meet the entry requirements to undertake a suitable training programme.

The collaboration between NHS England, Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and participating universities, will support the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan ambition to have 71,000 more allied health professionals in place by 2036/37.

Allied health professions make up the third largest workforce in the NHS, behind doctors and nurses, and range from dietitians, radiographers and paramedics to podiatrists, orthotists, operating department practitioners and others.

Navina Evans, Chief Workforce Officer at NHS England, said: “This campaign is a fantastic example of the NHS finding new and innovative ways to showcase the brilliant careers on offer in the NHS – with armed force recruits able to experience different roles in real time before deciding if it is a career they would like to pursue.

“Growing the number of allied health professionals in the NHS is a key part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan – and our ambition is to increase the number of these professionals by around 70,000.

“To succeed in this goal and build a workforce which is fit for the future, we need to recruit staff from a wide range of backgrounds and former armed service personnel offer a fantastic depth of skills that are suited to these professions.”

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