NW RFCA supports International Women’s Day 2022


Tuesday 8th March 2022 is International Women’s Day and it is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the amazing achievements of women throughout the world and shine a spotlight on inspirational women within our Armed Forces community in the North West. This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. Collectively, we can forge women’s equality.

At the North West Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association we have put Colonel Diane Haddock, the Commanding Officer at 208 Field Hospital in the #BreakTheBias hot seat. 208 Field Hospital is an Army Reserve Medical Unit with over 150 Reservists based across four locations in the North West. Many of their Army medics work in the NHS in a variety of roles such as surgeons, nurses and physiotherapists.

It is the responsibility of Colonel Haddock to command, train and administer the unit effectively, efficiently and safely.

Explain your journey to becoming CO at 208 Field Hospital:

My journey to my current appointment of CO has been one that has been shaped  over some 25 years.  I joined 208 Field Hospital in Jan 1997 with my sister (also a Nurse) as a Private Soldier, and within 6 months of joining found myself being selected for Commission into the Officer Cadre.  Having seen my mum ( a mother of 7 Children) be an active member of 208 before me in her capacity as a medic, I knew that it would be something I would relish. 

I never imagined from joining that I would one day Command the Unit and I am thankful that the Army has invested in my in developing my leadership skills so that I can now Serve to Lead in this position of privilege.  I know if my mum were here today she would be proud of this achievement.  I can say hand on heart that my time to date within the Army Reserve has been incredible and I continue to be involved in such amazing experiences with phenomenal people whose shared goal is to be trained and ready to deliver outstanding deployed healthcare anywhere in the world.  I think as Reservists, we recognise the support we receive from our employers, from our civilian work colleagues but especially from our families who support and appreciate why we do what we do.

What challenges do face in your role as CO?

I have arrived into Command of the Unit at an exciting time of change, we are yet to know the detail of the Implementation Order following the Integrated and Field Hospital Review, but I know that it will be an exciting journey that I will part of with our people to form 206 North West Multirole Medical Regiment  – whose purpose will enable a greater flexibility and fit of deployed healthcare to meet the changing demands of the future Army.  The challenge as I see it is to ensure that we don’t lose any of our valuable people as part of this journey and I recognise that this is a significant change, but a change for good and with effective communication and understanding, we will transition to our new formation with ease.  It is recognised that we all have faced extraordinary challenge over the past 2 years against the COVID backdrop and my goal is to focus on effective re-engagement of our entire workforce so that we can move forward in this endemic phase as a whole.  I know from speaking to our personnel that they have found their reservist roles during COVID as being their safe haven during the pandemic as this is the place where they have been afforded the opportunity to rebuild their innate resilience and shared experience.

How far do you think the Army has come in achieving greater gender balance?

If we look at the direction of travel, we can see a positive trajectory of women within the British Army and a greater percentage of women within the Reserves ( 15% female as at 2021 stats) and I certainly have experienced a shift in the Army embracing Diversity as ensuring we have the best leaders.  To that end, it also has meant that we are seeing an increase in women being appointed to such leadership appointments within the Army and the Army Reserve.  I am optimistic that this will be a continued direction of travel within the Army as a whole.  From an observational perspective, I see more females in strategic roles within the Army and particularly within the Army Medical Services, in fact, our Own Brigade Commander is Female and a force to be reckoned with.  Brigadier Alison McCourt is an inspiration to us all in embracing our diversity, and recognising the strength of the individual regardless of gender. 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day for me is extremely important in championing the importance of the positive culture change and in recognising the inherent skills and approach women bring to the workplace.  The day is about reminding us all about the need to have equity of access to opportunities as we know historically this has not always been the case,  We have come a long way, but there is always more we can do.  I am proud to be a Mother, I am proud to be a leader and I am proud to be a woman.

For more information on 208 Field Hospital, see here.

Reserve Forces