Our duty to the Armed Forces community

The NHS has a duty to deliver on a number of health commitments in relation to the Armed Forces community (service personnel (regular and reserves), their families and veterans), which are set out in the Armed Forces Covenant and the NHS Constitution.

The Armed Forces Covenant

  • The Armed Forces community should enjoy the same standard of, and access to healthcare as that received by any other UK citizen in the area they live.
  • Family members should retain their place on any NHS waiting list, if moved around the UK due to the service person being posted.
  • Veterans should receive priority treatment for a condition which relates to their service, subject to clinical need.
  • Those injured in service should be cared for in a way that reflects the nation’s moral obligation to them, by healthcare professionals who understand the Armed Forces culture.

Visit the Armed Forces Covenant for more information.

This is recognised in the NHS Constitution, which states ‘the NHS will ensure that in line with the Armed Forces Covenant, those in the Armed Forces, reservists, their families and veterans are not disadvantaged in accessing health services in the area they reside’.

Out of hours support:

  • Samaritans freephone 116 123 (24/7) or email – to access confidential emotional support for feelings of distress, despair or suicide thoughts.
  • Togetherall– a safe online service providing access to millions with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. Free for serving personnel, veterans, family members and carers.
  • Shout – a crisis text support service for people in the military community who are struggling and need immediate support to get through a crisis. Text CONTACT to 85258.
  • Forces line telephone helpline: 0800 7314880 (Monday – Friday 10:30 – 19:30) or email. For serving personnel, former members of the Armed Forces and their families.
  • NHS 111 – to access medical help fast but when it’s not a 999 emergency, telephone 111 (available 24 hours). To access information from the NHS on conditions, treatments, local services and healthy living following the link to NHS Choices.
  • Veterans UK – to seek information on claiming AFCS, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Medical Discharges and Pension Forecast Requests.