Healthcare and the Armed Forces Covenant

When registering with an NHS GP or dental practice, it is important to 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

The Armed Forces Covenant is a ‘promise from the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly’.  The Armed Forces Covenant has the following commitments in:

  • Family members should “retain their place on any NHS waiting list, if moved around the UK due to the Service person being posted.” Please see Page 6 of this document for more information.
  • “The Armed Forces community should enjoy the same standard of, and access to healthcare as that received by any other UK citizen in the area they live.”

The wording “the area [in which] they live” 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.

The Armed Forces Covenant clearly states that if you are on a waiting list for a procedure at location A and you move between CCGs to location B, you should not be disadvantaged and placed at the bottom of the waiting list.  You should join the waiting list at location B in the same position as you were in location A.

It is very important that you tell the NHS service you are accessing that you are a member of a serving Armed Forces (AF) family.  It should be included in your patient notes.  In addition, tell the NHS service about the two Armed Forces Covenant healthcare commitments above if they don’t know about them.