When an individual joins the Armed Forces they become Regular Service personnel, and their registration with a civilian GP removed. They enter the healthcare system coordinated by the Ministry of Defence. Their healthcare system differs greatly from the NHS. Service personnel and the Armed Forces place great emphasis on physical fitness. Personnel are expected to report illness or injury immediately. They have access to high quality healthcare support. Once an injury or illness is reported, an assessment is made to determine what, if any, effect this will have on the operational capability of the individual. Service personnel cannot self certify for periods of minor illness.
Reservists remain in NHS GP care unless they are deployed and can access the MoD healthcare system for up to six months post deployment.
The culture of fitness in the Services may make it difficult for mental health issues to be discussed. Doctors within the Armed Forces are high-ranking officers and this may also adversely affect health-seeking behaviours of those with lower ranks. There is also a culture of stoicism and outward appearances of strength and invulnerability, which again could be detrimental.
When leaving the Service a Veteran enters normal NHS care and a copy of the full medical record is given to the Veteran. They are also provided with contact details for a GP to request copies. GPs will either receive a copy from the MoD or can request a copy from:-
Royal Air Force
The Medical Director General
Medical Records Release Section
Institute of Navy Medicine
Alverstoke, Hants PO12 2DL
T: 023 9276 8063
Army Personnel Centre
Mailpoint 525, Kentigern House
65 Brown St, Glasgow G2 8EX
T: 0845 600 9663
Medical Casework 6
Air Manning Medical Casework
Headquarters Air Command
Room1 Building 22, Royal Air Force High Wycombe,
Walters Ash, Buckinghamshire HP14 4UE
T: 01494 497410
If you are working in a GP practice
- Do you ask newly registered patients if they have ever served in the AF?
- If a new registrant was recently discharged from the Armed Forces would you offer them an early consultation with a GP to address any potential issues?
- Would you code the fact that they are a Veteran?
- Would you check that a copy of the Service medical record is in the GP record?