The Government is making plans to deploy more highly skilled NHS specialists on operational assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The plans were outlined by Alan Johnson in a speech to senior NHS managers and Reservist healthcare personnel at the Imperial War Museum, Manchester on Friday.
Mr Johnson wants the “Sponsored Reservists” scheme to be developed to support the Armed Forces in specialisms where there are particular pressures, such as intensive care, emergency medicine and neurosurgery.
He called for the NHS to be supportive of staff who are interested in volunteering, which he claims will couple a vital role in caring for the Armed Forces with the acquisition of new skills which benefit them and NHS patients.
According to the Secretary, during a three month operational tour a Reservist will typically deal with more trauma than during fifteen years working for the NHS – as well as developing important skills like leadership, communication, adaptability and teamwork.
The appeal has been criticised by the BMA who said such initiatives had failed in the past because of a lack of adequate training.
Dr Brendan McKeating, Chairman of the BMA’s Armed Forces Committee said: “We would also urge caution in sending civilians to operational theatres, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, in the direct line of fire when their training cannot possibly match that of doctors in the regulars or reserves.”
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“‘He called for the NHS to be supportive of staff who are interested in volunteering.’
1. Who will support these volunteers by way of paying their bills when they are out there working?
2. What is the length of the contract?” – Augustina Fashola, Luton, UK