Health care for RAF personnel

Health and Additional Needs

RAF Regular Service personnel (SP) includes FTRS(FC) personnel for the purposes of this website.

Health overview

Alison Cotton is the RAF Families Federation Policy Advisor for Health and Additional Needs – if you have any comments she would love to hear from you – alison.cotton@raf-ff.org.uk 

If you have any evidence you would like to report to us or an issue you need help with then you can contact us with that too – please use the ‘report an issue button’ at the top of the screen. 

Healthcare for RAF SP and mobilised reservists

Defence Medical Services (DMS) are commissioned by the MOD to provide primary, dental, rehabilitation, mental health, overseas, occupational and operational healthcare services for Serving personnel and mobilised reservists.  All hospital care is provided by the NHS.  Serving personnel should register with their local unit Medical Centre and this should be their first port of call for any health issues.  However, in the case of out of hours emergencies which require immediate and urgent medical care, call an ambulance or attend the nearest Accident and Emergency unit.

Check this site to see whether you are eligible for MOD healthcare and other benefits such as the Armed Forces Occupational Maternity Scheme or Paternity Leave.

As well as providing General Practice (GP) and Occupational Health (OH) services for RAF serving personnel and mobilised reservists, Defence Primary Health Care (DPHC) is also responsible for the delivery of OH and Rehabilitation to all Reservists irrespective of Terms and Conditions of Service.  See 2019DIN01-080 for an overview.

Healthcare for RAF families

Some RAF bases allow family members to register with the DMS Medical Centre on base.  To find out if this is the case for you, visit raf.mod.uk/our-organisation/stations/, click on the name of the relevant station and then click on the ‘Facilities’ tab.  Under the Health and Welfare section, there will be information about the Medical Centre and who is eligible to use it.  If you are still unsure, contact the Medical Centre or HIVE on base who will be able to advise and direct you as appropriate.  The majority of AF families will access and receive their healthcare through the NHS in exactly the same way as the rest of the population.  This is also the case for non-mobilised reservists and military veterans. 

The majority of AF families will access and receive their healthcare through the NHS in exactly the same way as the rest of the population.  This is also the case for non-mobilised reservists and military veterans.  The NHS in England is responsible for providing services such as dentists and opticians and shares responsibility for GPs with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). 

Commissioning is the planning and buying of services, based on what the needs of the community have been assessed to be, and aims to ensure the best possible health outcomes for the local population.  CCGs commission a wide range of services including mental health services, urgent and emergency care, elective hospital services, and community care.  As of April 2020, there were 135 CCGs in England and the different CCGs may have different priorities to each other.  When RAF families move around England, they may notice that services they accessed in their previous location are not available in the new area they have moved to.  This is because that particular service may not be seen as a priority in the new area by the local CCG.  It is recommended that if a member of the serving family is accessing specialist treatment/care, they confirm in advance of posting that the service they require is available in the new CCG. 

You can find details of your local CGG on the NHS website.

The NHS website is a good way to find out what NHS services are available before moving to a new area in England.  On this website, you will find information about how to ‘Find a GP’ and ‘Find a dentist’.  When you register with an NHS GP or find a dental practice, you should tell the practice that you are a member of a serving Armed Forces family, so this can be added to your patient notes.  This helps to ensure that you are treated in line with the Armed Forces Covenant. 

There are a large number of additional avenues of support depending on you or your family’s requirements.  Find out who to contact.

Health care in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Health is a devolved responsibility therefore the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland assembly have responsibility for provision of health services in their regions. For more information on the NHS in these areas please follow the links below.

Scotland: NHS 24

Wales: NHS Direct

Northern Ireland NHS

Overseas health care

Health care for families who are posted overseas may be provided by the Ministry of Defence, local military unit or other local arrangements may exist. Families will be informed before they move of the specific arrangements that exist for health care in the country to which they are posted. If families have any special health care needs they should discuss these prior to accepting an overseas posting to ensure their needs can be met in the overseas location. See also: Overseas – Medical care

Defence Medical Welfare Service

The Defence Medical Welfare Service is a charity providing practical and emotional support to the Armed Forces and their families in the UK, overseas and whilst on operations.  The service provides support from a DMWS Welfare Officer in hospital, in the care of a hospital or in a rehabilitation or recovery centre. To find out more go to their website.

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