Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has received the Silver Award in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.
The award from the Ministry of Defence rewards civilian employers for the support that they provide to members of the armed forces community in the workplace. This includes reservists, former members of the armed forces or service partners or spouses.
The announcement means that Somerset Partnership joins Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust in gaining the Silver Award, and with the two organisations looking to merge they will work together to achieve the Gold Award in 2020.
Somerset Partnership and Taunton and Somerset have both signed the Armed Forces Covenant and support its aims by being an armed forces friendly employer, being an armed forces friendly healthcare provider and through engagement with the armed forces.
Both organisations, working as an alliance across Somerset, understand that with two military communities within the county it is important to be supportive of these groups as both healthcare providers and employers.
The alliance intends to keep working towards providing care and support for veterans and is looking to obtain Veteran Aware Hospitals status in Musgrove Park, community hospitals and mental health units.
Director of people and organisational development, Isobel Clements, said: “As one of the largest employers in Somerset, we understand and value the skills and experience that service leavers, reservists and veterans can bring to our organisation, while as a healthcare provider we know how important it is to provide appropriate support to service staff, veterans and their families.
“We are proud and delighted that this has been acknowledged by us obtaining the Silver Award and will use this to push forward and gain gold status for our joint alliance with Taunton and Somerset.”
Somerset Partnership Armed Forces Champion, Barry Alexander, said: “The NHS and the Armed Forces share common values such as selfless commitment and team work which means that many veterans are a good fit for a second career in the NHS. We also support our colleagues who are in the reserve forces by providing additional leave to ensure that they can meet their annual training requirements. Our reservist colleagues benefit from additional training and development that they bring into their civilian employment. Supporting those who serve in the reserve forces is good for them and good for us.”