NHS staff take on the Reserve Forces

On Friday 19th May 2017, Exercise Medical Stretch took place at Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh.

National Health Service (NHS) medical and management staff were invited to take part in this one day employer engagement event, to experience first-hand the training undertaken by members of the UK Reserve Forces.

This training prepares Reservists for supporting their Regular counterparts during times of conflict, natural disaster, humanitarian aid or support for UK home duties.

They also discovered the transferable skills and capabilities that Reservists can bring to their civilian work places. Many employers, including the NHS, have individuals from the Maritime Reserves, Army Reserve and Royal Air Force (RAF) Reserve working within their organisations, but there is often little understanding of the roles that Reservists undertake.

Exercise Medical Stretch allowed participants to take part in the routine training exercises that reservists are familiar with. These opportunities are designed to develop specialist medical skills as well as the important broader abilities of leadership, teamwork, communication and self-confidence.

It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm of the NHS participants and great to see how much they learnt about the role of medical Reservists

PO Sean Carruthers

Those attending were split into small teams and rotated around a diverse range of informative and interesting stances.

A maritime exercise, run by HMS Scotia, included instructions on how to abandon ship, enter a life-raft and essential drills for sea survival - with the added pressure of a time constraint. Examples of other challenges included negotiating an obstacle course and a simulated casualty evacuation.

Sean Carruthers is a Petty Officer Naval Nurse in the RNR and a Forensics Nurse Practitioner in the Crime and Criminal Justice Department of Northumbria Police.

"It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm of the NHS participants and great to see how much they learnt about the role of medical Reservists," said Sean.

This was a high-profile event attended by a number of Senior Officers from all three Services, including HMS Scotia's Commanding Officer, Commander Tom Knowles and the Senior Naval Nurse (Reserves), Commander Kit McKinley.

The event was enjoyed by a diverse audience of NHS professionals. As well as staff from all critical care specialisms, the day was attended by allied healthcare professionals (such as radiographers and pharmacists) and non-medical staff, such as NHS executives and HR personnel.

In recent years, the relationship between NHS Scotland and the Reserve Forces has gone from strength to strength as a direct result of initiatives to improve the NHS policy for Reservists. These improvements were driven by Commander Pauline Small , who was a senior Officer at HMS Scotia and recently retired as the Senior Naval Nurse (Reserves).