In this blog, Gavin Jones shares his experiences of taking part in the Step into Health programme and how this helped him to secure employment in the NHS following a career in the Army.
During my 24-year career with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps I took part in deployments to the former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. My last role was as a Brigade Ordnance Warrant Officer.
At a jobs fair held by the Career Transition Partnership in June 2016, I met with Kofi Quartey who leads on Step into Health at Hampshire Hospitals, he was able to share the opportunities available for supply chain experts in the NHS. Following that I attended a Step into Health insight day at Winchester Hospital which was informative and offered further encouragement that perhaps there were opportunities for people with my skill set. I subsequently conducted a three-week work placement at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
The placement gave me a very good look at the NHS, from the basement up. I realised by the end of day one that there was a lot I could offer the service, if they recognised my potential input and transferrable skills. Following the placement, I was offered casual employment on their staff bank where I would start work on 31 October 2016 – this also happened to be my last day of Army service.
Until quite recently, I was working for King’s Interventional Facilities Management LLP (company owned by King’s College Hospital) as a band 8A project manager. I have now been seconded as the Associate Director of Supply Chain Operations (8B). I bring my ability to stand back and understand problems to the role and how to engage across all levels. People who have served within the forces are can-do people and are driven by results – we chat, plan and do (in that order), with defined deadlines. I would like to think that, in five years’ time, I will have further cemented my position in the NHS and have successfully moved into a more senior position - I have my sights on an 8C. I now understand the value I have to offer is recognised by the outside world and I feel much more relaxed about looking for new opportunities.
I think that, so long as members of the Armed Forces community are prepared to conduct a voluntary work placement during their resettlement period then the real time experience gained is invaluable – both for deciding whether the NHS is right for them and for learning about how hospitals run.
The NHS gains exceptional people, the service leaver is likely to be well-versed at communicating (at all levels), managing people and tasks and, as importantly, leading people through the inevitable change that the NHS must go through over the coming years.
To find out how your organisation can pledge to support Step into Health please visit our dedicated web pages.