Joining the NHS from the Armed Forces

Ray Olive

Ray Olive joined University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) after serving in the British Army for 24 years as a warrant officer.

He changed career in the most turbulent times and in this blog, Ray and his employer share how Ray’s military background helped him to join the trust as assistant director of people and organisation development. We explore the steps NHS organisations can take to actively recruit more members of the Armed Forces community into their workforce.


Ray: “It was a little daunting to be leaving the Army while the current COVID-19 situation was developing, but having been given a conditional offer of employment and treated so well by everyone I had spoken with; I was certain that UHMBT was a place that I wanted to work.

“The values of the trust matched with my own and its strapline ‘a great place to be cared for, a great place to work’ really made me think that this was a place that I could belong after my military service ended.”

His words echo what we, at NHS Employers’ Armed Forces team, often hear from members of the Armed Forces community, that the alignment of values between the NHS and the Armed Forces makes joining the NHS an attractive opportunity.

With around 16,000 people leaving the military each year (not including other members of the Armed Forces community, such as reservists, veterans, Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, and their families), there is a large pool of people looking for employment who are often already equipped with the skills and experiences needed for the NHS.

Ray believes hiring members of the Armed Forces community into the NHS adds a new dynamic to teams, as well as bringing a unique set of transferable skills. His advice to recruiting managers would be to be flexible with military applicants. In his instance, even though he did not fully meet the person specification, he possessed the skills needed within the NHS right now.

UHMBT recruiting manager: “At times we can place too much reliance on previous experience as a predictor of how someone will perform in a role. Such an assumption limits the market to a narrow band of similar individuals. When we were recruiting for our assistant director of people and OD, we were looking for someone different, someone that could bring an alternative view and perspective into the team in order to challenge how we were doing things. Ray has certainly brought that to UHMBT.

“He was appointed because of his skills, his attitude and his enormous potential to support the refreshing of our people and OD approach. He has joined us in the middle of the most extraordinary of times and was unable to benefit from our planned NHS orientation programme due to COVID-19, he has shown what a capable, inclusive and committed individual he is. The wealth of experiences and competencies gained from his time in the Army guide him in his role.”

Ray says he has certainly made the right decision joining the NHS. While he knows it will have its challenges, being a veteran, he learned how to apply himself in any given situation.

NHS Employers leads the Step into Health programme that works with NHS organisations to publicly support the recruitment of members of the Armed Forces community into the NHS.

For more information on how you can support the Armed Forces within your workforce, visit our dedicated web pages.

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