Moving can be a particularly stressful time, so we have compiled a checklist to help with your health care planning.  Service personnel are transferred under Defence Medical Services (DMS), if you are a family member you will need to take steps to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of treatment from one NHS practice or hospital to another.  It is always easier to make all arrangements before you leave.

‘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… For family members… They should retain their relative position on any NHS waiting list, if moved around the UK due to the Service person being posted’

The Armed Forces Covenant

Health care services to inform of your move

It is important to inform any health care services you or your family use. This may include:

  • your GP surgery

  • health visitors

  • school nurses

  • optician

  • any other local health services you use

Note: Stay registered with your current health services for as long as you can until you have registered with new ones.

Primary care checklist (GP services)

  • It is advisable to ask your current GP for a summary care paper record to give to your new practice.  This should contain information about your health care history, prescriptions and current treatment plan for the new GP that you register with.  You may also be able to access this information via the NHS App or via an online portal with your GP.  It is worth noting that you will need to access this information before you move; certain functionality will temporarily cease with the app such as booking appointments and ordering prescriptions.

  • When switching GP surgeries your medical records are sent electronically from your old GP surgery to your new one, this can take up to a week, after this you should be able to access your record via the NHS app once again.

  • Ensure you have an adequate supply of regular medication before you move, you may need to request more than the usual 28 day prescription supply to adequately cover the time it takes to move and re-register with a new GP.

  • Check the NHS website to find a new GP: How to register with a GP surgery – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

  • Check if there is a Veteran Accredited GP Practice you are able to register with, this means that a practice can better identify and treat veterans and service families, it also means that they are better able to meet the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant.  You can see current practices that are signed up to the scheme here:

    Veteran Friendly practices – Google My Maps

  • Ask your new GP to register you as an armed forces family/family member on your medical records.  They do this by adding a specific code representing armed forces families.

  • Dual serving parents:  parents must usually register their child at a GP surgery where at least one parent or carer is registered.  This is different for the armed forces community as you are allowed to register your child at a GP surgery even if both parents are registered with Defence Medical Services.

Secondary Care checklist (Consultant care and waiting lists)

We know that moving locations can mean potential interruption to secondary health care; health care provided by hospitals and treatment centres.  To make moving to a new area as seamless as possible it is worth doing some investigation before you move:

  • Check that your current treatment is available to you at your new location.  Each Integrated Care Board has a different set of treatment priorities and some medical care may not be available in some locations.

  • If you are receiving treatment or are on a waiting list for care under a hospital consultant, you will need to request a direct referral to a consultant in your new location.  Make sure your consultant knows that you are a service family member, moving for service reasons, and ask your consultant to do this for you.

  • If you are on a waiting list, it is important that you are transferred to a similar place on an NHS waiting list at your new location.  This does not guarantee that you will have the same waiting time, as waiting times may be shorter or longer depending on the clinical need in the area you are moving to, but you should not be disadvantaged by your move to a new NHS area.  Ask your GP to facilitate this for you.  They may need to contact the hospital in your new location to do this.

  • You’ll have separate records for any NHS service you go to so make sure you are able to access these online or obtain paper copies from your consultant including copies of any test results, x-rays, scans etc, so that you can pass these on to your new healthcare provider/consultant.

Moving to a Devolved Nation within the UK

The Devolved Nations, Scotland, Wales and NI operate their own health services under the NHS banner, and the provision of some services differs from that in England.  If you are moving out of England to another part of the UK it is important to check any health care requirements you have can be met in other parts of the UK.

Welcome to Wales: Supporting and investing in our Armed Forces Community in Wales (gov.wales)

Welcome to Scotland: A guide for Service personnel and their families in Scotland (updated 2021) (www.gov.scot)

Scotland’s Service Directory – Find health services in Scotland | NHS inform

NHS 111 Wales – Services near you

Health services | nidirect

Get Help

If you are finding it difficult to access services in your new location or experiencing any health care access issues let us know.