Armed Forces

Sussex NHS Commissioners support their Armed Forces community in a number of ways, whether it is as an employer to Reservists, Veterans and/or partners or as a provider ensuring that commissioned services understand the needs of this community.  The commissioners also host the Armed Forces Network for Sussex and Kent & Medway which offers training, support and guidance across sectors to individuals and professionals in meeting the needs of the Armed Forces community.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a pledge from the nation to those who have served (and their immediate families) in the British Armed Forces ensuring that they do not suffer disadvantages as a result of their service.  The Armed Forces Covenant was originally signed by the Primary Care Trusts in Sussex back in 2012 and this has more recently been re-signed taking into account the restructuring which has taken place in the local NHS.

The East Sussex CCGs received the Gold Award in 2018 from the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme becoming the first CCGs in England to reach Gold.  Brighton and Hove and West Sussex CCGs currently hold the Bronze Award but will be working with the Armed Forces Networks to achieve their Silver and move onto Gold.

From July 2015, the NHS Constitution was updated and now states:

The patient will be at the heart of everything the NHS does. …. As part of this, the NHS will ensure that in line with the Armed Forces Covenant, those in the Armed Forces, Reservists, their families and veterans are not disadvantaged in accessing health services in the area they reside.

You can contact the Armed Forces Network via their website, on 01273 403693 or by email

Supporting the Armed Forces as an employer

A close relationship is held with the Defence Relationship Management (DRM) which partners with organisations throughout the UK, helping them understand the value of signing the Armed Forces Covenant and building mutually beneficial partnerships with Defence. The DRM also provides support on employing Reservists, Veterans, Cadet Force Adult Volunteers and military spouses and improving fairness for the Armed Forces community in the consumer market.

There is a need to that all employees are cared for whether that employee is a:

  • Reservist
    • Deployment
    • HR policies
    • Training and development – benefits
    • Call out notices, pay, pension, length of deployment
  • Veteran – Access to Support
  • Partner/Spouse/Parent

Organisations who take positive action to make their workplace more reservist friendly and support the wider Defence People requirements may be eligible for Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS)  awards and in Sussex the following NHS organisations have achieved:

  • Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust – Gold
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust – Bronze
  • Surrey and Sussex NHS Foundation Trust – Bronze
  • Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – Bronze

NHS Employers is taking action to ensure the NHS takes into account the Armed Forces community by bringing together employers from across London and the South NHS Employers Network.

Step into Health offers an access route into employment and other career development opportunities within the NHS to members of the Armed Forces community.  NHS Employers supports organisations in adopting the programme, ensuring that Step into Health is embedded into recruitment strategies and workforce supply routes.

The programme recognises the transferable skills and cultural values that Armed Forces personnel have developed, and how these skills and values are compatible with working in the NHS.