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From the Armed Forces to the NHS

A photo of Ally Middleton

''I served in the PMRAFNS (Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service) for over 12 years.  I left as a Senior Non Commissioned Officer to seek a career in the NHS as both my partner and I were serving in the Royal Air Force and the work-life balance was challenging.  Whilst in the RAF I worked in the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, based in QE Hospital Birmingham, looking after predominantly repatriated soldiers from conflicts, or other trauma patients from the rest of the world. 

 I then spent a few years working in Cyprus in the military hospital, looking after service personnel and their families which brought a different challenge of children, young people and family care.  Following that I spent much time working with the Army in various training centres, supporting frontline medics and new recruits.  My final posting was working in BCU training the future military nurses.  I deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq on a number of occasions, working in austere conditions and had done areomed roles taking me as far away as the Falkland islands.  When I moved over to the NHS I was keen to experience a different challenge and influence change in education in our local systems.

Nursing is nursing, it’s a compassionate, evidence-based, and varied career, wherever you work. The pandemic showed the real similarities - the early days of the pandemic reminded me of my overseas deployments – although not as hot and sweaty.  I’ve had the ability to work alongside NHS and civilian colleagues for most of my military career, so the transition was quite easy – and I’ve been lucky to be welcomed by all the teams and people I’ve worked with in Worcestershire.   

I still feel very in-touch with the RAF – my husband is still serving, and some of my closest friends are those I’ve met in the military.  I like to think I have the best of both worlds, the social life and friendships of the military, and work challenges of the NHS without having to crawl around a muddy field on training a couple of time a year!

 I joined the Armed Forces Network, right at the start, and apart from anything else its great to know that there are people out there who understand what military life is like.  I’m a veteran, but I’m also now a spouse of the military lifestyle, and understand what that can be like, from being left at home when there are short notice deployments and exercises, moving house every 2 years, or dealing with repercussions of partners who have been overseas, involved with traumatic situations for instance.  The network offers not only somewhere to chat but also real-time support for those who are part of the wider Armed Forces community who may need short or long term support in the workplace to cope with the unusual challenges that may occur.''