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 the Health & Additional Needs team at


01   Changes to the DPHC prescription contract with Lloyds Pharmacies

From 31 March, prescriptions issued by Defence Primary Healthcare staff will no longer be dispensed through Lloyds Pharmacy.

Alternative arrangements are being put in place, and further advice will be issued by DPHC in the next few weeks. MOD-run pharmacies are not affected.

Back to top

02   Healthcare for the Armed Forces community: a forward view

Healthcare for the Armed Forces community: a forward view is a nine-point plan to support the Armed Forces which was published on 4 March 2021. This document is a companion document to the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), and it outlines the commitments that NHS England and NHS Improvement is making to improve the health and wellbeing of the Armed Forces community, serving personnel (regulars and reservists), veterans and their families.

Back to top

03   NHS Healthcare for the Armed Forces Community

The NHS website has a specific webpage for the Armed Forces Community. We hope you find it helpful and welcome your feedback.

Back to top

04   Registering with a GP

All serving personnel are registered at Defence Primary Healthcare (DPHC) Medical Centres and 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 an NHS GP practice if you prefer to.

Top Tips for finding a GP practice right for you

  1. Find your local HIVE as they should have information on the local GP practices available in your area and whether you can register with a DPHC medical centre. Or, speak to friends and other people who live locally to see which practice they recommend
  2. Find a GP practice near you in England.
  3. Find a GP practice near you in NI
  4. Find a GP practice near you in Scotland
  5. Find a GP practice near you in Wales.

Temporary GP Registration

For children at boarding school in the UK:

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 if they remain registered there.

Also, if your child were ill, you would not 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 can 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.

If you are living overseas, you should be able to register as a temporary resident if you need medical treatment whilst in the UK.

Register for temporary medical treatment in England
For NI: check with the local GP practice or medical centre
Register for temporary medical treatment in Scotland
Register for temporary medical treatment in Wales

For more advice or if you have had problems finding or registering with a GP please contact the Health & Additional Needs team at

Back to top

05   NHS dentists and orthodontists

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.

Dental provision

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. However, if you are moving dental practices please inform the practice, so they can give your place to someone else.

Find an NHS dentist

If you continue to have an issue with finding an NHS dentist for your family or yourself please contact NHS England’s Customer Care Centre: Telephone: 0300 311 22 33 or email

For NHS dentists in the Devolved Administrations see:

Health Service dental charges and treatments in NI
Receiving NHS dental treatment in Scotland
Find an NHS dentist in Wales

Dental provision in NI for dependant children

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.

Orthodontic provision

Some issues that families have raised with us include:

Waiting list times for orthodontic treatment – some families are experiencing long waiting list times for treatment. There have also been issues with transferring waiting list times on moving.

Continuity of orthodontic treatment – some families have experienced problems with continuing their children’s orthodontic treatment when they move to another area.

AFF has worked with the NHS England Dental Commissioners to provide some specific guidance for families on transferring orthodontic waiting lists and treatment:

  • It is recognised that patients receive the best treatment outcome by completing their treatment under the care of one orthodontist.
  • NHS Orthodontic treatment can take between 18 months to over 2 years. The average length of time of treatment is 21 months.
  • Orthodontists with existing NHS contracts in England can accept a patient who has moved from another part of the country (or from overseas) who is already waiting for or undergoing NHS orthodontic treatment.
  • Most orthodontists operate two waiting lists; one for assessment and one for treatment. The assessment appointment will determine NHS eligibility e.g. whether a patient can be treated under the NHS and prioritise clinical need.

Transferring treatment within the UK

What if I am on a waiting list for orthodontic treatment and I move home within the UK?

If a patient moves and needs to change orthodontists, the current orthodontist should discuss alternative orthodontic providers with the patient and arrange a direct referral to the preferred provider. Under the Armed Forces Covenant Service families should retain their relative position on the waiting list, so the referring orthodontist should provide the date of the patient’s acceptance on their list to the new provider to ensure their relative position is retained.

What if I am receiving orthodontic treatment and I move home within the UK?

A patient should remain with their current orthodontist, if possible. If the patient requests a transfer, the treating orthodontist should discuss alternative orthodontic providers with the patient and arrange a direct referral to the preferred provider to continue treatment.

Patients can find information on who currently provides orthodontic treatment. Patients should contact their preferred dental practice to arrange an initial appointment and discuss a referral to an orthodontist if appropriate.

Transferring treatment from abroad

Where a patient begins treatment abroad and returns to the UK and is entitled to NHS care, NHS criteria is applicable and not the criteria from the country where they began treatment. The patient should have been under 18 at the point of referral, have had an Index of Treatment Need (IOTN) of at least 3.6 and have good oral health.

I have moved to the UK and have been on a waiting list for orthodontic treatment abroad. Can I access treatment?

Once referred to an orthodontist and it is ascertained that the patient meets NHS criteria, the orthodontist will agree the appropriate waiting time based on clinical need and the need to retain the patient’s relative position on the waiting list. For the patient’s relative position to be retained, it would be useful for the patient to provide evidence of how long they have been waiting for treatment, e.g. date of patient acceptance on overseas waiting list.

I have moved to the UK and have been receiving orthodontic treatment. How can I continue my treatment?

Follow the general information which provides advice on how to find a local NHS dentist and orthodontist. Patients should arrange for their original patient records including study models, radiographs, photographs and notes to be provided so that an NHS orthodontist can confirm whether they would have met  NHS criteria on their original assessment date (i.e. that they were under 18, an Index of Treatment Need (IOTN) of at least 3.6 and have good oral health). If the orthodontist feels that the NHS criteria would have been met, a course of treatment within the NHS can continue to be provided.

If the orthodontist does not feel that the NHS criteria would have been met, or original patient records are not provided, a course of NHS treatment will not be provided.

If you have any further queries concerning orthodontic transfers, the NHS England Customer Contact Centre is a useful point of contact for patients requiring information about accessing primary care (GP, dental, optical and pharmacy services). To contact NHS England’s Customer Care Centre call 0300 311 22 33 or email

Please contact the Health & Additional Needs team at if you are experiencing any issue with NHS dental or orthodontic issues.

Back to top

06   NHS waiting list times

The Armed Forces Covenant has a commitment that any time waited on an NHS waiting list should be transferred and you should retain your relative position on the waiting list.

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.

Guide to NHS waiting times in England
Hospital waiting times statistics in NI
Waiting times in Scotland
Waiting times in Wales

Back to top

07   NHS and DPHC Complaints Procedure – a simple guide on how to complain

NHS complaints

Try local resolution by talking to your GP or practice manager

DPHC complaints

  • Every DPHC medical centre should have a local medical complaints policy and a medical complaints manager (MCM)
  • You can make a verbal (or informal complaint) to the MCM to see if there can be a local resolution
  • Or you can make a formal written complaint if local resolution isn’t possible. Include the names of the people involved and any witnesses to the event. Also state you desired outcome
  • You should receive acknowledgement within 2 working days and a full response within 10 working days
  • If you are still not happy with the outcome your complaint can then be sent to the Regional Clinical Director who has a further 30 days to investigate
  • If it still cannot be resolved it will then be forwarded to HQ Defence Primary Healthcare for further consideration
Back to top

08   HANDi Paediatric App

The HANDi App was originally developed by the paediatric team at Musgrove Park Hospital to provide expert paediatric advice and support to parents, carers and medical professionals who care for children with the most common childhood illnesses. These may include diarrhoea, asthma/wheezing, high temperatures and abdominal pain. Many Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) across England have links to this App now.

The HANDi App is a useful tool for parents and carers, particularly if they can’t access their GP immediately, because it includes specific illness home assessment guidelines and signposts parents to the most appropriate healthcare support. There are also Home Care Plans for the six most common childhood illnesses, which provide guidance on how to best care for and support your child with these illnesses.

The App can be download from the App Store or from Google Play.

Back to top

09   Have your say and get involved

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.

I feel more confident following the information you've given me

Back to top

What our families say about AFF

“I truly appreciate the work that you all do.”

“Thank you for all the guidance and support. You have been amazing.”

“Your professionalism in this matter was more than welcoming”

Find out more
7,260enquiries received from Apr 23 to Mar 24
13,000+followers on Facebook
33,071website views in May
9,500+followers on X