At AFF we think that it is very important that healthcare provision for our Army families is adequately met, whether this is through NHS funding or private provision. We are particularly aware that regular moves around the UK or overseas can sometimes impact on the care or treatment you receive. If you are having any issues or concerns about your healthcare provision please contact Karen Ross, the Health and Additional Needs Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you travelling overseas to visit friends or family this summer? No matter how familiar the destination – even if you have previously lived there – you may no longer have any immunity to diseases common in that location. What’s more, if your children have never lived there, they definitely won’t.
Here are some top tips from the Defence Public Health Unit to stay healthy while overseas:
AFF has received a number of enquiries regarding healthcare provision and NHS waiting list times in Northern Ireland. As a result of these enquiries, we have complied some specific information about health and social care provision in Northern Ireland.
Prepare for your assignment to NI
1. It is important to register your family member’s specific health or additional needs requirements (including acute and chronic illness, mental health and any specific medication being taken) to ensure the chain of command is aware of the support or provision your family member may need. This can be done by:
2. It is important to research the health and social care available in NI (see the information below) ahead of requesting or accepting an assignment. Although NI has a NHS, some healthcare provision isn’t available, including some drugs for cancer treatment. For other healthcare provision, there may be longer waiting lists than you are currently experiencing.
3. When transferring ongoing care or treatment it is advisable to:
Who provides health and social care in Northern Ireland?
Belfast Trust is one of five Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts that provide health and social services across NI. While the board commissions services, it’s the Trusts that actually provide them ‘on the ground’. Each Trust manages their own staff and services and controls its own budget. The other four Trusts in Northern Ireland are:
Ambulance services in NI are provided by the NI Ambulance Trust. For more information, visit www.niamb.co.uk
Access to information
Some procedures may be offered to be performed in the Republic of Ireland as this is an EU country and therefore funding has, in the past, been available to reduce waiting lists in NI. If this were offered, advice would be given through 38 (Irish) Brigade Central Risk Assessment Cell (CRAC) team reference personal security.
Healthcare provision that is not available in Northern Ireland
Termination of pregnancy
The law in NI is different from that of Great Britain. In NI, it is lawful to perform a termination of pregnancy only if:
It is for a medical practitioner to assess, on a case-by-case basis, using their professional judgement as to whether the individual woman’s clinical circumstances meet the grounds for a termination of pregnancy in NI. Termination can be made available for serving personnel through the medical centre who will refer to the MPAC system; however, it does require travel to England and on advice only given by MPAC for non- serving personnel.
Enhanced Screening for Pregnancy is not available due to the Abortion law. If this is required, it may result in the individual returning to England to access this procedure.
Bariatric surgery (gastric band surgery)
Bariatric surgery is not available in NI. Again, it would be advisable to discuss your options with your GP or consultant in England before planning a move to NI.
Certain cancer drugs are not available in NI. Advice would be to discuss with your oncologist, before leaving your current location, availability of your treatment plan in NI.
For more information on what you can do if cancer drugs are not available, click here.
NHS waiting list times
NHS waiting list times vary in NI to those in your current location. The advice would be to discuss options and seek advice with your current GP before leaving your current location.
Different healthcare provision
Assisted conception and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
This is available in NI for both heterosexual and same sex couples. One cycle of IVF is available on the NHS in NI, even if you have a child. For more information, click here.
There is no charge for prescriptions for anyone in NI.
There is no local variation within NI for dental services. Orthodontic treatment is provided at certain dental surgeries. It is important to research the provision available and whether ongoing treatment can be continued in NI, before leaving your current location. Click here to find a dentist in Northern Ireland.
Mental health treatment and counselling is available on the NHS in NI but there is also other support available to Armed Forces families. Families requiring mental or emotional support can be referred to Staffcare. Staffcare are external to the military and are all qualified counsellors. Staffcare is unique to NI and is provided in support of the Army Welfare Service (AWS) due to it not always being appropriate for people to make use of all the civilian agencies that would be an option in England.
An individual can refer themselves or can be referred by welfare agencies, doctors or other healthcare professionals with the individual’s permission. The AWS Intake and Assessment Team (IAT) will usually refer to the AWS Personal Support team (this is a team of four, two military, and two civilian trained Army Welfare Workers). They are there to help single and married personnel and their families. They are based in Lisburn, but cover all of NI and can do home or office visits as appropriate. They are trained in counselling skills and can deal with most matters, but can also refer to Staffcare.
All requests for help and advice should go via the Intake and Assessment Team (IAT) on 01904 882053 or 882054 or email AWS-HQ-IAT@mod.uk
Some families may have concerns about their current treatment and future assignments and may need to consider one of the following:
In December 2015, the Welsh Government changed the way people choose to become organ donors in Wales. These changes will affect Army family members aged 18 years or more, who have lived in Wales for at least 12 months.
Regular soldiers posted to Wales as part of their Service will not be affected.
For more information, click here.Back to top
The NHS Constitution establishes the principles and values of the NHS in England.
AFF consulted on this process and is delighted that the Armed Forces Covenant has been recognised and included in this document. Keep talking to us and let us know if you experience disadvantage as a result of Service life.Back to top
AFF assisted the Department of Health with developing the NHS Choices Healthcare for the Armed Forces Community Armed Forces families page. We hope you find it helpful and welcome your feedback.Back to top
All serving personnel are registered at Defence Primary Healthcare (DPHC) Medical Centres. You and your family may be able to register at a DPHC medical centre, depending on where you live.
DPHC medical centres and access to services may differ slightly from NHS GP practices. At a DPHC medical centre, you will receive treatment from a mixture of Service and civilian healthcare specialists. You can choose to register at a NHS GP practice if you prefer to.
Top Tips for finding a GP practice right for you
Temporary GP Registration
For children at boarding school:
Most children who attend boarding school should be registered with a GP practice local to their school, but this will only usually cover them in term time. This is because there is often a significant distance between the child’s school location and home, so the GP practice would not be able to cover emergency visits.
Also, if your child were ill, you wouldn’t necessarily want to travel long distances to visit their GP. If your child requires medical treatment while they are at home in the holidays, they can be registered as a temporary resident at your local GP practice. You are able to see a temporary GP for up to three months (if you require longer than this you will have to re-register with the practice). The temporary GP will pass on any treatment details to your child’s permanent GP to add to their medical records.
For more information on temporary GP registration visit NHS Choices
Visiting from Overseas:
If you are living overseas, you should be able to register as a temporary resident if you need medical treatment whilst in the UK. For more information visit the CAB Advice Guide
For more advice or if you have had problems finding or registering with a GP please contact Karen Ross at email@example.comBack to top
AFF understands that some families have experienced or will experience problems with accessing NHS dental care. We are also aware that orthodontic treatment can involve long waiting lists and is subject to local area variations. This can result in disrupted care provision due to frequent moves. Please remember we are here to help.
Some issues we are aware of include:
Boarding school children’s access to NHS dentists & orthodontists – if your child attends boarding school in the UK, it is expected that they will be registered with a dentist close to school or near their legal guardian’s home. In some overseas locations, where their parents are living, children can access DPHC dental treatment, but not orthodontic treatment
Waiting list times for orthodontic treatment – we are aware of some families experiencing long waiting list times for orthodontic treatment. There have also been issues with transferring waiting list times on moving.
Continuity of orthodontic treatment – some families have experienced problems with continuing the orthodontic treatment their child is having when they move to another area
What are you entitled to?
In NI, visiting dependant children are entitled to emergency care under the NHS, provided the Dental Practitioner is willing to take them on under temporary registration. Their UK medical card should suffice as evidence of entitlement or if their parents are registered at the same practice.
You do not have to access a dentist in the area you currently live in, so you can remain with a dental practice you have previously used.
If your child requires emergency dental care and is too far away to visit their own dentist, you can contact your dentist, local area team or call NHS 111.
If your child is visiting you at an overseas location, contact your own dental practice and see what treatment they can offer (there may be a charge for treatment).
The issues with accessing orthodontic treatment, such as waiting lists and continuity of care, are not straightforward, so are best dealt with on an individual basis. Please contact Karen Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org
When looking for an NHS Dentist you might find these links useful:
For information on accessing orthodontists and treatment, visit NHS Choices.
If you are struggling to find an NHS dentist that will take new NHS patients, or if you are having issues with orthodontic provision, please let us know. We use this information to help you resolve your problem, but also effect change for others.Back to top
The Armed Forces Covenant has a commitment that any time waited on an NHS waiting list should be transferred.
AFF is aware that NHS waiting lists in the Devolved Administrations may be longer than those in England, so this may affect the waiting list time. We would really welcome your feedback on any issues you are having with NHS waiting lists, particularly when you are moving from one area, or country, to another.
For information on waiting list times in:Back to top
Try local resolution by talking to your GP or practice manager
DPHC Complaints – a simple guide
It’s really important to get involved in feedback. This is because it shapes the services available in your area but you can also help other Army families access good services. Healthwatch is an initiative where the NHS must consult with the public on how their local health services are run. As a Service family they would really like to hear from you because your experiences of frequent moves and transferring healthcare can provide a unique perspective. It will help them provide a service structure that supports you.
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