Conference highlights common challenges for military and NHS forces during pandemic

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A leadership conference for the NHS and military forces with a particular focus on mental health and well-being brought on by the pandemic, took place earlier this month on the Lancaster campus of the University of Cumbria .

The Defense Medical Leadership Conference brought together the NHS and military leaders for the first in-person military medical conference since the start of the pandemic.

In the presence of more than 80 people with representatives of the NHS and members of the medical services of the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force.

Collectively, military personnel are part of the Defense Medical Services whose purpose is to promote, protect and restore the health of the British armed forces.

Much of the conference focused on the leadership challenges shared by military medical services and the NHS amid the pandemic, as well as staff recovery and resilience.

NHS speakers shared their experience of operating during the pandemic and how they were handling the readjustment of the crisis mode. Military representatives discussed a range of new Defense medical leadership initiatives, including a part-time leadership development program, a national leadership network and a mentorship program.

Col (Honorary) Dr Ian Corrie of the University of Cumbria and Brigadier Archer presented the results of their new leadership pilot program, ‘Serve to Lead’ based on Dr Corrie’s research ‘Transformative Learning Theory’.

Professor Di Lamb, nursing defense professor and author of ‘Caring for the carers: a COVID-19 psychological support program’, shared her work supporting military personnel and NHS organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic .

Speaking about the event, Col (Honorary) Dr Ian Corrie of the University of Cumbria said:

“This conference successfully brought together the military and the NHS to share their experiences in leadership and mental health and wellness issues encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was the first that we have been able to have in person in several years due to the pandemic and so it was fantastic to be able to share the lessons of this incredible time with colleagues from all organizations.”

Dr Ian Corrie, Senior Lecturer at the University of Cumbria, was named Honorary Colonel of the 355 Medical Evacuation Regiment three years ago in recognition of his leadership and coaching skills.

Over a five-year period, the honorary role will see Ian tasked with promoting the regiment and the role of Reservists and supporting the regimental system that is at the heart of the British Army.

The conference also cements the university’s commitment to the Armed Forces Compact to support the armed forces community and ensure that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

The conference took place on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 September.


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