Going for gold


The Defence Employer Recognition scheme (ERS) is run by the Ministry of defence, and awards bronze, silver or gold to organisations that pledge, demonstrate and advocate support for the Armed Forces community. 

To help more trusts achieve gold, we have pulled together some top tips on how you can fulfil the award criteria . This includes best practice examples from NHS organisations that have already achieved or successfully working towards the gold award.

Gold award criteria

Advocate and support the Armed Forces

  • Here are some ideas on how your trust can show how it supports and advocates the Armed Forces community:
    • Provide assistance so staff can complete their reservist training
    • Show support for reservists during recruitment and employment
    • Use your communication channels to promote reservists and the benefits they bring to your organisation. 
    • Create a Reserve Forces Committee to support and promote reservist medical capability locally. For more details on how to set up a committee, read our case study from Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Board support

  • Gaining board support is crucial in attaining gold recognition, as senior staff are able to ensure that reservists are supported throughout the trust. This can be done by looking at what processes can be put in place, and by publicly supporting reservists. Find out how South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust approached the board for support and got their chief executive committed to supporting reservists in the NHS.


  • Making contact with your local unit and regional employer engagement director will strengthen your relationship with employees that are members of the Armed Forces and will allow the trust to recruit from the military talent pool. In this case study from Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, you will find out how they worked alongside military units to provide work placements in the trust for young people Not in Education or Employment (NEET). 


  • Working with your HR department to create policies that advocate support for reservists, will allow them to fulfil training and mobilisation commitments. This not only develops the reservist, but their new skills can be used your organisation. At Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust they have a specific HR policy that gives two weeks paid leave for training, and provides flexibility to attend weekend and evening training commitments.
  • As part of the gold award, the organisation must also employ at least one member of the reserve forces or Armed Forces community.

Public commitment

  • As part of the awards scheme, trusts are required to show their commitment for reservists by signing the Armed Forces Covenant. This aligns the NHS organisations values to the covenant pledges and allows the trust to publicly show its support for the Armed Forces community. 
  • You can also show your that your trust is committed to supporting reservists by holding Armed Forces events. At Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, they organise a military annual dinner each year for reservists working in the NHS and Nottinghamshire.


To be entered into the ERS, the trust must be nominated for the gold award by a third party using the online nomination form.

Need more help?

  • Nominate a member of staff to become your NHS Reserve Forces Champion. They will be the trust's dedicated point of contact for reservists and can build connections with your current reservists and other members of the Armed Forces Community. 
  • Use our reservist webpages to access resources and good practice from other NHS organisations. This will provide ideas on what you can do in your trust, and may help you to overcome common barriers. 

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