Published on: 11 March 2020

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating a fantastic win in the first-ever Step into Health Awards for its work in recruiting members of the Armed Forces community to the NHS.

The Trust won the 'Leading the way as an employer' award for embedding recruitment of veterans and their families into its recruitment processes and acting as an exemplar and sharing good practice with other employers.

Step into Health recognises the transferable skills and cultural values that Armed Forces personnel have developed and how these are compatible with working in the NHS. It highlights the many career opportunities available and supports them in gaining employment within the NHS which offers over 350 different careers, clinical and non-clinical.

Trust Chief Executive Ken Bremner, who received the award at a ceremony in London, said: "I am absolutely delighted that our Trust has been honoured in this way. It is a source of pride to us that we support our Armed Forces at every opportunity. As an employer, we know that reservists and veterans have so much to offer due to their wide range of skills and experiences, coupled with the self-confidence, resourcefulness and positive attitude they gain through service in the forces."

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is a leading Armed Forces-friendly employer. It was the first NHS employer in the region to achieve the Ministry of Defence's Employer Recognition Gold Award - the highest badge of honour available to those that employ and support those who serve, as well as veterans, and their families. It was also among the first to sign-up to the national Step into Health initiative and has a dedicated Step into Health lead to help ensure that it is fulfilling its pledge to the initiative. It has held several Step into Health events involving workshops, talking to employee veterans and engaging with recruitment teams to explore employment opportunities.

In association with the Ministry of Defence Career Transition Partnership, the Trust hosted an event for service leavers, veterans, reservists and military spouses who expressed an interest in finding out more information about a healthcare assistant's job within a hospital setting. Those who applied for the role following the event were guaranteed a selection interview and, as a result, two people were employed by the Trust.

The Trust hosted the inaugural regional NHS Step into Health 'insight' event last summer on behalf of NHS Employers. Each of the North East's Trusts was represented and 42 service leavers and veterans attended to gain a better understanding of the NHS and its partners and of how to access the wide range of jobs available.

In addition, the Trust has hosted two visits from the Armed Forces Recovery Centre in Catterick and another is scheduled for June 2020, after which the Trust will have welcomed 45 wounded and sick forces visitors. The day includes a welcome presentation, hospital tours and an interactive session in relation to applying for posts and interview skills.

The Step into Health Awards ceremony was held at the Royal Society of Medicine's HQ. Earlier in the day, representatives from the shortlisted Trusts were invited to meet the Duke of Cambridge at Kensington Palace.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: "I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all the winners and finalists and, indeed, to all those who were nominated. Your work is extremely valuable, and the NHS would be the poorer without it.

"The NHS needs to attract and retain talented people to deliver our Long Term Plan. There's no greater pool of talent than within the armed forces community and it's great to see how much the NHS has benefited from being able to access it. NHS organisations from every region of England have pledged to Step into Health, and we look forward to seeing the scheme grow even more."