Army medics could help fill nursing shortfall at Colchester General Hospital

Colchester General Hospital

Colchester General Hospital

Bosses at the health trust which runs Colchester General Hospital hope to encourage Army medics to help cover nursing vacancies in their spare time.

Colchester-based 16 Medical Regiment on a recent training exercise, Exercise Serpents Delivery.

Colchester-based 16 Medical Regiment on a recent training exercise, Exercise Serpents Delivery. - Credit: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC

Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust (CHUFT), like many other acute trusts nationally, is struggling with a high number of vacancies for both qualified and unqualified nurses.

The trust has put into place a number of initiatives in a bid to address the shortfall, although it has recognised the problem may be long-term until nationally more is done to train and recruit nurses.

However CHUFT now hopes to cash in on existing arrangement with Colchester Garrison.

As with any form of medical student Army medics are required to carry out clinical placements as part of their initial and ongoing training to ensure their qualifications and skills are up to date, and many of those based at Merville Barracks in Colchester complete this at Colchester General Hospital.


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Now the health trust hopes to encourage them to sign up to NHS Professionals, an NHS agency which provides bank staff, to allow them to fill gaps on a shift-by-shift basis.

A trust spokesman said: “We have been talking to Colchester Garrison about the possibility of using their Combat Medical Technicians, not dissimilar to paramedics, as bank nurses.

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“The garrison has been supportive of this and as long as the individual’s commanding officer is happy for them to work here when off-duty, it’s fine by them.

“We are also looking at other ways to further develop our relationship with Colchester Garrison, such as by attending job fairs they hold when their personnel are about to leave the Army in order to see if we can recruit frontline healthcare staff in that way.

“There has been a long tradition of co-operation between this trust and Colchester Garrison, which has involved mainly Combat Medical Technicians working in the Emergency Department (A&E) and Army nurses working in A&E and Critical Care. Other Army clinical professionals who have worked here include operating department practitioners, biomedical scientists and doctors.”

A Colchester Garrison spokesman said: “There are long-standing arrangements in place for personnel from Colchester-based 16 Medical Regiment to carry out clinical placements at both Colchester General Hospital and Ipswich Hospital.

“With the permission of their chain of command and provided it does not interfere with their military duties, soldiers are able to take on additional work in their spare time.”

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