Sunderland’s hospitals have pledged their backing to service personnel and their families with the signing of a special covenant.
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has signed the special Armed Forces Covenant outlining how it will support both serving and retired personnel and reservists among its staff.
Chief Executive Ken Bremner was joined by High Sheriff for the County of Tyne and Wear Lieutenant General Robin Brims CBE, who is Chairman of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association North East, to put pen to paper.
The trust has already been recognised as a forces friendly organisation and was awarded the silver employer recognition award in November.
It also supports events such as Armed Forces Day and Medical Challenge and has a dedicated intranet page and Armed Forces Champion, Kath Griffin, who is also the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development.
“We have 15 trust employees who are reserves within the armed forces, including the British Army and Royal Navy and there are up to 8,000 others employed within the NHS,” said Ken Bremner.
“We also employ a number of veterans and are looking at initiatives that will provide work placement opportunities and guaranteed interviews.
“We welcome the support of the Ministry of Defence and hope to continue to foster relationships to encourage more organisations to follow this same ethos.”
Trust policies include special leave to attend training and other duties; flexibility on leave for spouses and partners; priority care for veterans related to service, and supporting employment opportunities for veterans and spouses and partners of personnel.
Also present were Consultant Vascular Surgeon Ben Banerjee, and Patient Flow Manager and Night Matron Kelly Bennett, who have both served in the reserves.
Mr Banerjee is Commanding Officer of 201 Field Hospital, Newcastle, and has been deployed four times while working for the trust.
“Having an employer who values the work we do as reservists is enormously important,” he said.
“My last three deployments have been to Afghanistan and the support I have received from the trust has been on many levels.”