Tony Steps into Health after 22 years in the Military Police

Published: 10th July 2018

Army veteran, Tony McKenna is swapping fighting crime for saving lives by securing a new role at City Hospitals Sunderland after 22 years in the Royal Military Police.

Tony, 44 who lives in Houghton-Le-Spring, has spent his career working in the Army and travelled all over the world, including Germany Belgium, and Iraq. He is currently based at Catterick Garrison where he works in Army Investigations. After making the decision to retire, Tony was given seven weeks resettlement leave and contacted the Trust to explore opportunities for a change in career.

City Hospitals Sunderland is an Armed Forces Friendly employer and has the Gold Employer’s Award from the Ministry of Defence for its work supporting the military. The Trust has also recently signed up to be part of the national Step into Health Programme, launched by HRH the Duke of Cambridge, which provided Tony with the perfect opportunity to undertake his Care Certificate at the Trust.

Tony spent seven weeks working as a Health Care Assistant on one of the Trauma and Orthopaedic wards where he was assessed on a range of different competencies, including duty of care, basic life support, fluids and nutrition, safeguarding and awareness of mental health, dementia and learning disabilities. He passed the course with flying colours and was recently successful in securing a permanent post as a Health Care Assistant, which he will start in December.

Commenting on the opportunity, Tony said: “I’ve served in the Army for over 20 years and whilst I have enjoyed every minute, I knew that I wanted a complete career change once I retired. My wife is from Sunderland and we wanted some stability for our four year old daughter, so it seemed logical for us to be based here. I contacted the Trust as I enjoyed the medical training I received in the Army and I know that I wanted to be a life-long public servant.

“The training and support I have received has been phenomenal. I only had seven weeks of resettlement leave to do the training and they did everything they could to make it possible and to make it a smooth transition. I’ve been involved in everything on the ward and part of an amazing team who have offered me unparalleled support. There are definitely a lot of similarities in the skills needed in both professions and I am very excited to start my new role in December and see where it leads me.”

Kath Griffin, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at City Hospitals Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trusts, said: “Tony is a perfect example of why the Step into Health Programme was developed. After over two decades in the Army, he has chosen to come and work with us and there is absolutely no doubt that the skills and discipline that he has developed during his time in the military will be a huge asset to our team. As an armed forces friendly employer we are very proud to support the men and women who serve and protect our country. We already have a number of reserves who work across both Trusts and are working to develop more opportunities to support ex-service men and women and their families into employment with us.”

The Step into Health Programme was created because the NHS recognises the transferable skills and cultural values that Armed Forces personnel develop when serving, and how they are compatible with those required within NHS roles. Careers are not limited to just frontline roles, they also include maintenance, administration, finance, HR and management. The Trust also offers opportunities for work placements for service leavers. To find out more about the Step into Health Programme email