Armed Forces Covenant

The NHS Constitution sets out the principles underpinning the NHS. It was most recently amended in 2015 to incorporate the core Covenant principle that

the NHS will ensure that in line with the Armed Forces Covenant, those in the armed forces, reservists, their families and veterans are not disadvantaged in accessing health services in the area they reside”.

Under the Covenant family members should retain their relative position on any NHS waiting list if moving location due to the service person’s posting, subject to clinical need. However, the Covenant does not confer any preferential treatment or advantage to families (although in certain specific circumstances veterans may be entitled to preferential treatment from the NHS). So whilst waiting list times may be honoured, families may find that they have to wait longer in their new area as those with greater clinical need take precedence over them.

The wording “the area [in which] they reside” has particular significance. Whilst service families may argue that they are disadvantaged by the consequences of mobility and the different availability of certain treatments in different locations, this does not fall within the Covenant commitment. For example, the Covenant cannot help families who struggle to find a local NHS dentist on posting to a new unit because there is a local shortage of dentists as this is an issue for all residents.

For more information about any health and covenant related matter get in touch with us or you experience any difficulties in accessing primary healthcare, dentist or any other health care please let us know and we may be able to assist.

IVF Treatment

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) sets guidelines for the number of IVF treatments that should be offered to patients but local commissioners often set more restrictive eligibility criteria or restrict numbers of treatments available. NHS England recognised that this lack of consistency potentially disadvantaged serving personnel and have specially commissioned IVF services for serving armed forces personnel to ensure they had the same access to NHS treatment wherever they were based. There are still other eligibility criteria that must be met but this has improved the opportunity for many couples to have IVF treatment on the NHS.  For further information visit NHS commissioning policy or contact us.

What can you do to help?

The Covenant is there to support personnel and their families but equally important are the simple steps that families can take to help themselves. One of the most important things for families who are due to be posted is to notify their local GP, health visitor, dentist and other services of their individual circumstances as soon as possible. In many cases proactively informing these services before a move will ensure medical records are transferred and enable the continuity of any care and support that family members receive. Asking for copies of your medical records to take with you may avoid any delay arising from transfer of records. In the case of dental treatment, actively removing yourself from the dentist registration when you have secured registration elsewhere and no longer require it will ensure they are able to register another patient more quickly in your place, who may also be an armed forces family.