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Registering Armed Forces Personnel

Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2022, 2855 views

Updated contact details for GPs requesting a patient’s British armed forces medical records

When an individual leaves the British armed forces, they are given a copy of their summary medical record, together with information on how to obtain their full service medical record if needed. This should be given to the NHS GP they register with, however if this information has been lost, GPs can request it from the relevant armed forces service.

The following is in the contract changes for 2015/16 and therefore will apply from 1st April 2015:

The GMS Regulations will be amended to allow for armed forces personnel within a specified cohort to be registered with a GP practice for longer than three months and up to a maximum of two years.

Defence Medical Services will retain responsibility for meeting occupational health needs, but the individual’s primary care needs would be delivered through registration for NHS primary medical care services with a GP practice. These patients will need to have received the explicit authorisation of Defence Primary Health Care in order to register. A summary of the patient’s medical records will need to be shared with the GP practice.

Any armed forces personnel registered with a GP practice under these amended arrangements will be funded as a fully registered patient during the time of their registration.

Armed Forces Covenant

We have been asked by NHS England to draw attention to the commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant that came into effect through the Armed Forces Act 2011 and NHS England has passed on the following information.

The Armed Forces Covenant is regarded as the ‘contract’ between the population of the UK, the Government and all those who serve or have served in the UK armed forces and their families. The Covenant notes that the armed forces fulfil a responsibility on behalf of the population and the Government, sacrificing some civilian freedoms, facing danger and, sometimes, suffering serious injury or death as a result of their duty. Families also play a vital role in supporting the operational effectiveness of the armed forces. In return, the Covenant states that the whole nation has a moral obligation to the members of the armed forces together with their families.

Those who serve in the armed forces, whether regular or reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved.

Veterans should receive priority treatment where it relates to a condition which results from their service in the armed forces, subject to clinical need.

Those injured in service, whether physically or mentally, should be cared for in a way which reflects the nation’s moral obligation to them whilst respecting the individual’s wishes. For those with concerns about their mental health, where symptoms may not present for some time after leaving service, the ambition is that they should be able to access services with health professionals who have an understanding of armed forces culture.

For GPs, asking, SNOMED coding and recording if patients have served in the armed forces, or are part of the wider armed forces community (family, reservist, etc.) will help their patients get better access to the full breadth of NHS services; including some that are specifically focussed on this cohort (e.g.the Reserves Medical Assessment Programme). It may give access to specific veteran-focused funding (eg prosthetics or mental health) and further charitable services (eg mental health).

The best SNOMED Code to use is 753651000000107 "Military Veteran"

This knowledge will also enable GPs to access their prior medical records; a précis of which should be provided by the new veteran on leaving their respective service and registering with an NHS GP. The registration and recording helps the referral process, as well as the commissioning and planning of appropriate services.

Become a Veteran-Friendly GP practice and honour veteran patients

More than half of veterans (52%) have a long-term illness or disability, yet research suggests many may be reluctant to seek out support for their issues, particularly if they feel they may not be understood.

With an estimated two million veterans in the UK, it’s likely that the average GP sees a veteran patient every day. Being able to identify and support veteran patients is crucial to ensure best outcomes, as some veterans face different health challenges to the general population.

Join the 1,600+ accredited practices that have access to exclusive guidance and resources to ensure the best outcomes for patients who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families.
Find out more about the free scheme for GP practices here

For further information please see NHS Choices

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