New operating model for the commissioning of armed forces’ health care

The NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB) has published the single operating model for the commissioning of health care for the armed forces and members of their families who are registered with Defence Medical Services (DMS) GP practices.

The Securing Excellence in Commissioning for the Armed Forces and their Families document sets out where commissioning responsibility lies for all members of the armed forces community, i.e. serving armed forces, their families, reservists and veterans.

From April 2013:

  • The NHS CB will commission all secondary and community health services for serving personnel, mobilised reservists and service families registered with Defence Medical Services (DMS) GP practices.
  • Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will take over commissioning of services for reservists, veterans and their families, and the families of serving personnel not registered with DMS GP practices.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will continue to provide GP, dental and some specialist community services for serving personnel and GP services for those families registered with a DMS practice.

These are organisational changes to the management of commissioning but armed forces personnel and their families are unlikely to notice any changes in service delivery.

The new single operating model ensure there is a single, clear system in England for consistent commissioning to ensure well managed, efficient provision of care, national standards for patients and improved health outcomes.

The NHS CB has four regional teams and three of these will have an area team with specialist expertise to ensure that the single national model is adapted to meet local needs.

The teams are:

Region Lead area teams
North North Yorkshire and Humber
Midlands and East Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire
South (including London) Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire

These improvements will enable faster and more convenient treatment for serving armed forces personnel and their families, improving the access process into NHS services, and ensuring that the armed forces community can be progressed through the same arrangements as the civilian population.

There will be no changes to primary care, mental health or rehabilitation provision for serving personnel.

Under the new commissioning system, CCGs will be responsible for commissioning the majority of health care for armed forces’ veterans and reservists and their families, including:

  • All secondary and community healthcare services;
  • Murrison Mental Health (‘Fighting Fit’) for Veterans (with funding from the Department of Health); and
  • Enabling the transition of the serving wounded, injured and sick (including the links to social care) from DMS to NHS care.

CCGs will have a responsibility to uphold the Government’s obligations under the Armed Forces Covenant – as laid out in the new Mandate from the Government – which says there must be ‘no disadvantage from service’ for serving personnel, veterans, reservists and their families.