NORTH East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has received the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Award from the Ministry of Defence in recognition of its support to the Armed Forces community.

The award comes less than a year after the Trust signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant – a pledge to acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives – in late 2020.

The skills and experience an Armed Forces medical personnel can often be transferable to an ambulance service in a variety of roles.

NEAS has a long tradition in supporting ex and current Armed Forces personnel into and during employment, and proudly employs a large number of reservists and veterans.

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Having achieved bronze accreditation in March this year, the service has now received silver accreditation in recognition of its commitment to the pledge, which has included: Becoming one of 64 NHS trusts and organisations to be named a veterans aware employer.

Reviewing its reservist policy to ensure that current serving military staff can meet their training requirements.

Streamlining recruitment processes for ex and currently serving military staff.

Providing placements for military paramedics to build up their paramedic skills and competencies.

Karen Gardner, head of workforce development at NEAS, said: “We are committed to supporting all of our staff, including those who have served, and continue to serve our country, which is reflected in this silver accreditation.

“I am very proud of all our staff and am very proud to be able to show my sincere gratitude, pride and support to all those that have, and continue to serve our country, whilst continuing to also serve the public in their roles within NEAS.

“As well as countless ex and current serving military staff and veterans working in roles within NEAS, we also now have current serving military paramedics working within our service to gain experience, and we offer placements to military paramedic students.

“Since signing the Armed Forces Covenant and becoming a Veterans Aware Organisation, we have introduced many new initiatives over the last 18 months to honour the commitments we have made and will continue to build on this to further support our Armed Forces community.”

Reservist Lesley Atkinson, a clinical care assistant based in Washington, has served in the Fusiliers as medical sergeant in Newcastle for 24 years.

She said: “As a reservist, the support and help I get is second to none and both my careers complement each other.

“In my time with NEAS, I've had no problems getting time off for my annual 16-day camp and training courses. I've even done training where I've had unpaid leave approved to attend military events.

“The covenant means a lot as it shows NEAS appreciates the Armed Forces. We have knowledge and skills that are transferrable to the ambulance service; we are used to working in challenging and pressurised environments and understand the importance of communication.”

Commenting on the announcement of the 2021 Employer Recognition Scheme Silver awards,

Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Leo Docherty MP, said: “I would like to thank all the organisations who have proven their support for the Defence community during such unprecedented and challenging times.

“The vast range of those recognised this year demonstrates how employing the Armed Forces community makes a truly positive and beneficial impact for all employers, regardless of size or sector.”

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