Image for Walking with the Wounded News - Step into Health recognised as leaders in veteran recruitment  / (OA Dinner - SITH Award
 - OA Dinner 2017 (L-R) Fergus Williams, Operations Director of Walking with the Wounded, Julia Watling, Lead for Step into Health, and Alex Spofforth, Chair of the OA.   - Military charity

Step into Health recognised as leaders in veteran recruitment

The National Health Service’s 'Step into Health' programme - an initiative developed by Walking With The Wounded and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital - has received a prestigious award from the Officers’ Association for its programme helping former military personnel to meet skills shortages within the NHS.

The Step into Health recruitment programme connects employers within the NHS to the pool of talent available from within the veteran Armed Forces community.

The Step into Health initiative was developed in partnership between Walking with the Wounded and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in 2014. It is supported by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry through their Royal Foundation.

With over 350 plus career opportunities available, half of which are non-clinical, Step into Health aims to capitalise on the training, leadership and personal qualities of former Service personnel to fill these roles. The programme uses work placements, insight days, webinars and career path workshops to enable veterans to match their skills sets with the job opportunities available.


Since its inception, Step into Health has expanded to a further four pilot sites in 2015-2016, and is supported by Health Education England (HEE). From 2017, NHS employers will undertake a national roll-out to ensure job opportunities are made available to former military personnel across the country.


The OA Employer Recognition Award is given to an employer who recognises and utilises the transferable skills and qualities of the officer corps.


The award was presented at the OA’s annual dinner, held last night at One Great George Street, Westminster. The Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, addressed the dinner, along with Lord Digby Jones and Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence People.


Lee Holloway, Officers’ Association CEO, said:


“Since 2015, Step into Health has supported the OA Employer Leadership Programme to share best practice with other employers – this directly benefits the successful recruitment of former officers into the NHS and spreads the word about how valuable our Service personnel are to organisations and business.


The OA award is in recognition of this valuable ongoing work, and the formidable partnerships Step into Health is forging across the sector.”


Palmer Winstanley, who served in the Armed Forces for nine years as a captain in the Rifles and who is now divisional director at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said:


 “Without this scheme in place, I would never have known how to navigate my way into the NHS. Traditionally, the NHS doesn’t always understand the veteran’s transferable qualities, and the veteran then lacks direction and understanding on where to pitch themselves.


“The Step into Health scheme has provided the opportunity to find a role with a sense of purpose and meaning, and now as a director, the ability to dip into highly skilled talent pool. In such an uncertain and pressurised environment, the resilience, work ethic and values driven approach needed is found in every Service leaver.”


Sir Keith Pearson, Chair of the Health Education England, said:


“It is fantastic news that this extremely important programme of work has been recognised. Step into Health connects employers in the NHS to talent from the Armed Forces community.


“This worthy programme aims to offer opportunities for potential employees from the Armed Forces community to engage with the NHS, to offer work placements and increase the uptake of employment in the NHS. I am extremely proud that their work has been recognised by the Officers Association.”


Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, said:


“It’s a great honour for the NHS to receive this award – we’re immensely grateful to the Officers’ Association for their generous support. This achievement highlights the great work being done in this area, and challenges all parts of the NHS to make even better use of the talent and potential of ex-service personnel who can make such a valuable contribution to the NHS and our patients.”

Image: (L-R) Fergus Williams, Operations Director of Walking with the Wounded, Julia Watling, Lead for Step into Health, and Alex Spofforth, Chair of the OA.