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ROH Staff stories – meet Alastair

Alastair Beaven, Arthroplasty Fellow, Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Birmingham, shares his story for Reserves Day 2024.


Since leaving the Regular Army in 2012 I have been a medical officer with 202 Multirole Medical Regiment. The Regiment provides immediate first aid and emergency care at Medical Treatment Facilities close to the front line, including evacuation and treatment at a designated Field Hospital. I work in the hospital squadron which has responsibility for deploying, manning and sustaining a forward surgical facility; a small battlefield hospital that is equipped to perform damage control surgery.  The training commitment is 27 days a year including a two-week annual camp where Reserves have the opportunity to train together for an extended period. 


I find Reserve service to be more flexible than Regular service, and it allows me to manage my family, work, and leisure activities with a greater feeling of control. I did not want to entirely leave the military after my 9 years of Regular service, and the Reserves therefore gave me an excellent opportunity to continue to serve my country whilst remaining sufficiently adaptable.  


As an Army medical officer I have had 20 years of exposure to leadership and teamworking in some difficult conditions. Whether leading an adventurous training group during a trekking expedition in the Grand Canyon, or participating in ground patrols in Afghanistan, I can say my personal skills have been tested in ways not available in the NHS. I have found my military experience of leadership and teamwork incredibly useful to improve my NHS career and enhance my civilian working relationships.


Military training is varied and unlike other training I have received. There is a strong practical component and multi-modal teaching methods are employed, so that concepts are taught through visual, auditory, reading, writing, and tactile methods. I have done medical simulation from low-fidelity (basic) to ultra-high fidelity (highly functional and interactive), online work in my own time, lectures, command tasks, table-top exercises and rigorous training in the field. A greater emphasis is placed on working with limited resources which can bring additional challenges that have to be accommodated. 


Balancing a family, work and military commitment can at times be challenging and requires the support of both my wonderful family and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. As a Veteran Aware organisation I know that I can rely on the ROH to understand my military service and help me to manage my interests. I feel their support through networking events, the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, and staff members taking the time to talk to me about my experiences outside of the work environment.