5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - employing reservists

Army helicopter

04 / 11 / 2013

Reservists are exceptionally committed individuals, bringing a wealth of highly transferable skills to the NHS including decision making, communications, leadership and team building skills. 

Reservist Alan Taberner shares his experiences of how 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has keenly supported him with both his civilian and reservist careers, and how the transferable skills he has gained benefit each of his roles. 

About the trust

5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust offers treatment, support and guidance for people affected by mental ill health and learning disabilities.  They offer day care, in-patient care and community services to people living in the boroughs of Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, Warrington and Wigan. 

The trust employers approximately 3,300 staff and covers a geographical footprint of 1million people.

A reservist's view

Alan Taberner works as a primary care mental health nurse in the Primary Care Psychology Service, Wigan. Alan is also a Major in the Army Reserves for 207 Field Hospital (Manchester), which is one of ten reserve field hospitals in the British Army.

Military career

Alan has served in the army for 26 years and has a variety of military and medical skills and experience gained from working in both adult and mental health nursing roles.

As part of his reservist role, Alan is responsible for giving stress briefings to military personnel mobilising on overseas operations, and monitoring and educating them as part of a post-operational stress management package on their return.

His operational role is similar to his civilian role - outreaching to the troops and supporting them when they are on operational deployment, providing education and advice to commanders, providing therapy and supervising trauma risk management (TRiM) practitioners.

Alan says: "I had a successful tour of duty after mobilising to Iraq in 2004 as the officer commanding the Field Mental Health Team. This was a busy deployment due to the high tempo of insurgent activity. I was able to put my clinical and military skills to good effect and learned so much more about managing in an operational environment - working with commanders and dealing with the sensitive and political atmosphere."

Transferrable skills

Part of his role in the army is to give pre-deployment briefings on managing trauma stress to units that are about to mobilise overseas. Following the unit's return, Alan is responsible for offering debriefings. This includes risk managing and screening those who may need therapy. Alan is also the military veterans lead in Wigan. This gives him the opportunity to work with military veterans and see first hand the unique issues they face when they leave the forces.

Alan says: "The Army Medical Services (AMS) have trained me in trauma focused cognitive behaviour therapy (TF-CBT), and have also supported me to complete the eye movement, desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) course.  These are both ‘NICE’ recommended therapies used for those suffering trauma stress and I use them in my civilian practice.  I also attend an annual Military Mental Health Conference that includes clinical workshops to keep me up-to-date with trends and skills."

Wider skills

  • Fitness - military life encourages physical fitness, Alan believes keeping active and healthy has contributed to his good work attendance record and reliability.
  • Leadership opportunities have improved his confidence, this has allowed him to take a more active role in meetings and decision making.
  • Development in core skills such as teamwork, loyalty and the ability to work under pressure - working with and meeting diverse personalities from all walks of life and cultures allow me to have a wider scope and understanding of the behaviour of others.
  • Disciplined activities like weapons training, parade foot drills, field craft and survival training have enabled him to have a keen understanding of resourcefulness, perseverance, problem-solving and the ability to improvise in unfamiliar or difficult circumstances.

Supporting its reservists

5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust actively supports its reservists. One of the ways the trust offers support is with their 'time off for public duties' policy.  This offers their staff up to 18 days' paid leave if they are a volunteer in the Reserve Forces.

In addition, the trust supports reservists to attend an annual two-week camp with one week's paid leave and the other being taken as either unpaid or annual leave.

Alan feels blessed to have excellent managers and colleagues that support him.  

Alan says: "When I have mobilised on overseas operations I transferred to the regular army for that period until the end of my tour. My employers have been supportive and made the financial transition smooth.  When I return to the UK I am entitled to post-operation tour leave prior to my return to work. The leave is calculated on the number of days that I was deployed. On my return my managers have allowed me a gradual exposure back to working full time again, this helps ease me gradually back into my civilian role in the trust."

Alan also says: "Most of my training does not affect the trust because it involves weekends and the odd evening."

For further information

If you are interested in joining the Army Medical Services or would like more information you can contact: 207hosp-rhq-roswo@mod.uk or telephone 0161 232 4985.


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