NHS reservists supporting busy Lincolnshire hospitals this Christmas and New Year

More than 70 reservists are supporting Lincolnshire’s hospitals this winter by picking up shifts as housekeepers, porters and patient’s liaison assistants.
L-R - John Cunliffe, Liz Workman and Sam Mitha who are reservists at Lincoln County Hospital.L-R - John Cunliffe, Liz Workman and Sam Mitha who are reservists at Lincoln County Hospital.
L-R - John Cunliffe, Liz Workman and Sam Mitha who are reservists at Lincoln County Hospital.

NHS reservists at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) are being deployed across Lincoln County Hospital, Pilgrim Hospital in Boston and Grantham and District Hospital to reduce the pressure on staff and gain valuable experience of working in the NHS.

Reservist posts are paid positions, designed to be supplementary to substantive and bank staff, and in addition to volunteer posts. Reservists allow hospital staff such as nurses or healthcare support workers to focus on higher level priorities that are restricted to their job role, and can be deployed in areas that are facing challenges or higher work demands.

ULHT’s current reservists have shared a variety of reasons for signing up, including wanting to give back to the NHS, wishing to learn more about a career in healthcare while without changing their current career, having extra time to spare and looking for additional income in a rewarding setting.

John Cuncliffe, a reservist at Lincoln County Hospital, said: “Having retired in the summer of 2022 I was ‘advised’ by the family that I needed to find something to do with my spare time a few months later. Seeing the advertisement for NHS Reservists, I realised a successful application would not only be a good use of my spare time but also allow me to give something back to the community.

“I have been lucky to be deployed in several areas of the hospital and I found every shift to be highly satisfying and rewarding and found that the staff are always grateful for the presence of a reservist and I actually look forward to the next shift. Not forgetting that patients are at the centre of what we do, taking time out to talk to patients has led to many and varied discussions and everyone has a story to tell.

“It goes without saying that I am proud of the work carried out by the team to date and look forward to contributing further in the next few years.”

The Trust is working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions to make it easier for people to explore careers within healthcare, and the reservist roles allow people to ‘try before they buy’ by offering paid experience that they can do alongside other commitments such as work, study or caring responsibilities.

Many reservists have successfully applied for permanent roles in Lincolnshire’s hospitals, and credit their reservist experience for allowing them to get a foot in the door with direct experience in a variety of roles, and confirming that it is a career choice they are excited to make.

David Powell, project manager at ULHT, said: “Many people are interested in working for the NHS, but don’t always know how to get started or the wide variety of roles that are available.

“Reservists positions offer paid experience in a variety of NHS roles, and we benefit massively from a team of people willing to get stuck in and learn a variety of roles and skills essential to keeping a hospital running.

“Now that the project is running successfully across our sites, many members of staff are now looking at their workload and assessing what can be delegated to reservists to allow them to focus on other areas such as patient care, while giving reservists valuable experience and insights into working in our hospitals.

“Due to the high interest we’ve had for reservist roles, we’re asking people to commit for 12 months, but all training will be provided and reservists can choose which shifts they are able to fit around their other commitments such as work or family.”

NHS reservist roles are available across United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust sites. For more information about the reservist programme or careers within the NHS and health and social care, visit www.lincstalentacademy.org.uk