DARLINGTON'S private hospital has demonstrated its partnership with the armed forces by signing the Armed Forces Covenant.

It signifies the BMI Woodlands Hospital’s commitment to being armed forces-friendly. As part of the national BMI Healthcare network it treats more military personnel than any other hospital in the group.

The Covenant was signed by executive director Debbie Dobbs and tri-service representative Major Mark Wright REMC at the hospital on Morton Park, watched by reservist members of staff and representatives from the armed forces.

Consultant Col Mike Stewart, a Defence consultant advisor in trauma and orthopaedics and chair of the Tri-Service Board in Trauma and Orthopaedics, spoke about his own and military medical training and service, and noted the large number of former military personnel among his colleagues at the hospital.

He said: "I think this hospital is a hidden gem, and much of the great good that comes out of it, looking after patients, comes from what was instilled in many of us in our training.”

The Covenant was established to ensure that no member of the armed forces community is disadvantaged and, where appropriate, are given special consideration. In practice – and among other things – this means ensuring serving reservist members of staff will be granted additional leave.