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Reserve Forces: NHS

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on encouraging more NHS staff to become reservists. (204352)

Defence Ministers have met their counterparts on a number of occasions where the subject of NHS reservists was discussed. Officials within the MOD and the UK Health Departments have further advanced this issue under the auspices of the MOD/UK Health Departments Partnership Board. The Partnership Board is currently exploring a number of ways in which NHS staff can be encouraged to become reservists. These include targeted MOD recruitment campaigns and the education of NHS employers on the benefits to the NHS, in terms of clinical and leadership skills, of their staff being members of the volunteer reserve.

The MOD and the Department of Health are also developing the concept of sponsored medical reservists. The aim is to encourage specialist civilian clinicians to mobilise for a limited period within a deployed medical facility. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health announced our intentions in a speech in April at a dinner hosted by the Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers (SaBRE) organisation. The invited guests at the dinner consisted of NHS executives from NHS Trusts in the North-West. As part of his speech he also spoke of his support for NHS staff being members of the volunteer reserves and his hope that NHS employers would actively support staff who became reservists.

I am appreciative of the support of the UK Health Departments and the NHS in taking this work forward.