The military will access the NHS for specialist referrals and hospital admissions (these will be under pre-arranged contracts/agreements). The military welfare services will also link up with the local authority on a wide spectrum of cases that may arise with service families. Please also note that within the UK all service children access the local authority schools to where their parents are stationed/living.
They will only come under the military medical and welfare services when they are called out for operational service, once taken into full-time service the reservist will have full access to medical and welfare services on the same basis as their regular counterpart, their family will remain within the local community and remain with the NHS and local authority welfare services, however the unit they are serving on operations with and their parent unit will have a welfare responsibility for them, although in practical terms this proves to be quite difficult due to the distribution of the families and their unwillingness to engage with the services.
On completion of their period of full time service (usually for a 12 month period), they are demobilised, and will return back to the care of the NHS and local authority welfare services, and will not have access to the military medical or welfare services, the exception to this is the Reserve Mental Health Programme (RMHP), however, most reserve units will use the military welfare services to support the reservist and their family where possible.
Regular Reservists are ex regular service personnel who on leaving the regular services have a reserve commitment, the length of their reserve commitment will depend on their length of regular service, they will also be classed as veterans. These reservists are subject to call out for operational service, and in a number of cases, they will volunteer to undertake a period of operational service similar to that of the voluntary reserve, and under the same terms of service.
British merchant seafarers normally have Discharge Books which contain details of the vessels in which they served including the dates. The names and dates of those ships that sailed into the operational zones are retained in the records held by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Registry of Shipping and Seamen. Therefore, proof of service is based on confirmation of the individual’s ship discharge record and that ship’s service in support of UK military operations.
The definition for a member of the Merchant Navy to come under the Armed Forces Covenant has been agreed nationally as
‘Anyone who has served on a commercial vessel at a time when it was operated to facilitate legally defined UK military operations by HM Armed Forces’ and these personnel be called “UK Merchant Seafaring Veterans”.
Ex-Merchant Navy personnel who do not fall under the Armed Forces Covenant may be able to access support via the Merchant Navy Association.
In relation to the Armed Forces, NHS England commissions certain services for the armed forces community, particularly Regular Armed Forces personnel (eg IVF).
Clinical Commissioning Groups co-commission GP services with NHS England and will see to the every day needs for their population including the armed forces community. The Clinical Commissioning Groups are clinically led and are responsible for healthcare commissioning such as mental health services, urgent and emergency care, elective hospital services, and community care.
Further information about the services available can be located under Resources.