Introducing NHS Employers' Armed Forces team 2021

hands in air image

NHS Employers’ Armed Forces team works with NHS organisations across England with the aim to establish the NHS as a leading employer of the Armed Forces community.    

Our Armed Forces teams works across two programmes: Step into Health and supporting Armed Forces reservists in the NHS.  

The Step into Health programme highlights the value which members of the Armed Forces community can bring to the NHS and guides NHS organisations on how they can become forces-friendly employers. Our second programme aims to enable NHS organisations to support the Armed Forces reservists in their workforces.  

We are excited to introduce our team and look forward to working with our existing network, and making new contacts, over the coming year.

Step into Health 

Debs Poneskis Deborah Poneskis – programme lead 

Debs served in the Army for 26 years in the Educational and Training Services Branch and the Royal Military Police. She left as a Colonel in March 2016.  She then worked for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust as Head of PMO and Transformation before leaving to set up her own coaching and training business. She is passionate about supporting members of the Armed Forces Community into employment within the NHS and is delighted to have joined the team. 

Natalie Wong Natalie Wong –senior programme officer (SPO)  

Natalie’s background lies in charity work in the project management, events and marketing sectors. Before working for NHS Employers, she worked for Huddersfield Students’ Union, supporting students from different backgrounds and helping them to have their voices heard through creating campaigns and empowerment, training and development. She has a passion for engaging with individuals and groups from different backgrounds, offering them the tailored support needed to achieve their goals. 

Supporting Armed Forces reservists in the NHS

Helen Bogan

Helen Bogan –programme lead 

Growing up with a parent in the military and moving every few years has given Helen a passion for supporting our Armed Forces. Having previously led the health and wellbeing and Flu Fighter programmes at NHS Employers, and having worked in HR at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, she has been part of the NHS for 14 years. 

Sarah Patten - SPO 

Sarah PattenSarah’s previous roles include working as a trainer for a Cancer Alliance and as a project manager in a volunteer service within an NHS trust. Sarah feels extremely privileged to be appointed as SPO and looks forward to using her experience and transferable skills to enable organisations to recognise the real value and benefits to including reservists within their workforces, especially at a time when British military personnel continue to be a key part of the UK's ongoing COVID-19 response. 

Armed Forces team programme support 

Nicola Syslo - programme assistant 
Nicola Syslo
Nicola is a University of Leeds masters graduate who joins NHS Employers with a background in administration and marketing. She looks forward to supporting both programmes and to advocating support of members of the Armed Forces community in NHS employment. 

Want to become a more inclusive employer? 

View our infographic for guidance on how you can begin, or advance, your journey to becoming a forces-friendly employer and visit our dedicated webpages on supporting the Armed Forces community in the NHS. For further guidance, email 

Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Employers

  • A personalised website
    Manage your profile and select topics of interest to you
  • Access your dashboard
    Bookmark useful content to help you quickly find what you're looking for
  • Get involved
    Contribute to our Talking Points discussions, comment on and rate our webpages
  • Keep up to date
    Receive the latest newsletters and media summaries

Log In