Cumbria's NHS is calling on more ex-military personnel to consider a career in the health service.

One of those who has already made the transition is Richard Lloyd, who has been working in the NHS for two years.

A former Army Major, he moved to Cumbria with his family after leaving the military and initially wanted a complete change.

But he said he began to feel some of his skills were being wasted - and found they were of real value to the NHS.

Richard, who is now the business manager for community health at the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: "I was in the army for 28 years. I went to lots of places, did lots of different jobs.

"I was a Major by the time I left, but joined as a Private so I worked my way up through the ranks.

"After I came out of the Army, myself and my family settled in Keswick and bought a guest house. We did that for five years and it was great, but I missed being part of a bigger team," he said.

"I didn't feel like I was really using all my knowledge, experience and the qualifications that I'd gained."

During his Army days he'd completed a Masters in Business Administration through the Open University, plus he's built up a wealth of leadership, organisational and management skills.

One day he spotted an advert for a Step Into Health event in a newsletter from one of the forces networks. He decided to go along to the NHS open day in Northumbria, which opened his eyes.

"It was then that I realised that even though I wasn't of a clinical persuasion, there was such a range of jobs in the NHS that there would definitely be something I was suited to," he said.

Richard went back for placements, spending some time in lots of different departments and really enjoying it.

He then spotted a job at the Cumbria Partnership and applied, supported by a reference from the Northumbria trust.

"I went for the interview and got the job. They asked about relevant experience and I had lots of skills I could bring to it," he said.

"The NHS and Ministry of Defence are quite similar in some ways. They are both large government departments, publicly-funded and also deal with a lot of different specialities. They are both big teams that get things done, and you are serving the population, not in it for yourself."

Richard said the transition was fairly easy for these reasons. Although some people have had preconceived ideas about ex-military personnel, he said the best way to overcome that is prove them wrong.

He said: "There is a lot of misunderstanding about the military. It may sound cheesy but they are very good at investing in their people. They give you new challenges and believe in lots of training. You do come out as quite a robust individual who can turn their hand to a lot of things."

He added that those who have been in the forces have a strong work ethic and are used to an environment where you don't work set nine to five hours, so are well-suited to the NHS.

He said he would encourage more ex-military personnel to think about a career in the health service.

"Leaving the military is quite an adjustment. Some people do struggle and some are a bit more institutionalised than others. But I do think they would find comfort in being part of a big team again.

"I enjoy working in the NHS. I like being part of a big team again, working with lots of different people and moving things forward."

Cumbrian NHS staff will take part in the event to commemorate Armed Forces Day this weekend.

Taking place in Carlisle City Centre today, it is part of a national celebration of the Armed Forces, past, present and future.

To coincide, the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant - a commitment to those who proudly protect our nation with honour, courage, and commitment.

The covenant is a pledge to treat those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, with fairness and respect.

Their equality, diversity and inclusion team have also set up an Armed Forces Network for staff across both trusts.

Kate North, head of workforce futures and inclusion, said: “We have set up the network to bring together staff from across a range of different professions who have previously served, or who are currently involved in reservist careers, to show our trust’s collective support and value for those within our workforce."

Staff with connections were also encouraged to come to work in military uniform yesterday ahead of Armed Forces Day.

John Thompson is a lead specialist practitioner at the North Cumbria trust, and a reservist.

He said: “I joined the Territorial Army in March 1983 initially as Royal Engineers, transferred to Royal Signals and then joined the Regular Army in 1989, with the Royal Engineers as Bomb Disposal.

"I have been deployed to multiple countries around the world including Kurdistan and the Falkland Islands.

"After leaving the regular army I joined the TA and have been to Iraq, Afghanistan working in a variety of roles including reconstruction of schools, field hospital and clinical training officer. In total I have completed 35 years as a regular and reservist.”

The trusts are also linking in with NHS England as part of the Step into Health Programme, connecting employers in the NHS to people from the Armed Forces community.