Healthcare for armed forces serving personnel

Find information and support about healthcare for serving personnel, mobilised reservists and family members.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is responsible for providing both basic and specialist healthcare needed for all serving personnel and mobilised reservists.

If you are a reservist who is not currently actively serving, you receive your healthcare in the same way as a veteran.

Find out more information about healthcare for veterans.

Healthcare on active duty

Basic care while serving

Basic check-ups and treatments for serving personnel and mobilised reservists both overseas and in the UK are provided by the Defence Medical Services (DMS).

The DMS is made up of the Royal Navy Medical Services, the Army Medical Services, the Royal Air Force Medical Services and Headquarters DMS Group.

Basic care you receive through the DMS includes:

  • check-ups through military GPs (general practice)
  • dentistry
  • occupational medicine
  • community mental health services

All basic care services are staffed by regular uniformed and reserve medical personnel from the British Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.

Returning to the UK for specialist treatment

If you need to return to the UK for specialist or emergency treatment, you will receive hospital care through the NHS.

You will be treated in an NHS hospital with specialist wards and staff dedicated to treating serving personnel.

Where will I be treated?

The main treatment centre for seriously injured serving personnel is the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM). This is a specialist centre provided by the DMS and the NHS.

The RCDM is based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham (QECB). Most injured serving personnel returning to the UK will be taken to QECB.

You will be placed in either the specialist military ward or go straight to intensive care depending on your injuries.

The military ward contains staff from both military and civilian backgrounds, and has many features for serving personnel such as a physiotherapy suite, communal spaces and a quiet room for family members and visitors.

The Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) will visit you regularly. They will help you with your day to day needs, and maintain a link with your unit.

Rehabilitation services

The DMS provides many rehabilitation services across the UK. These are known as Primary Care Rehabilitation Facilities (PCRFs) and Regional Rehabilitation Units (RRUs).

Most serving personnel will receive physiotherapy and exercise rehabilitation through PCRFs. If you have more serious injuries, you will be referred to an RRU.

The DMS also works with the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC). This is a specialist centre committed to supporting serving personnel in their rehabilitation.

Find out more about the DNRC:

Non-urgent and routine hospital care

If you are based in England and need non-urgent or routine hospital treatment, you will be referred through the NHS.

You may be placed on waiting lists or have limited choices for your treatment depending on your situation.

Find more information about how NHS care works for the armed forces community

Pregnancy and fertility support

It is important to know what options you have and actions you can take if you or your partner are either pregnant or looking to get pregnant while in the armed forces.

Find information and advice about pregnancy and fertility when in the armed forces on our support for armed forces families page.

Mental health support

The DMS provides mental health support for serving personnel and mobilised reservists, including crisis support and specialist care.

There are also charity helplines that are available for you to talk to.

Find out more information about mental health support for serving personnel and their families.

Sexual assault support

If you have been sexually assaulted while in the armed forces or as a veteran, it is important to not be afraid of getting help.

Find help after rape and sexual assault.

Forward Assist’s Salute Her UK: advice and support for women who are veterans or currently serving.

Support for families of serving personnel

There is a range of support and advice available for families of armed forces serving personnel and mobilised reservists.

This includes services and charities dedicated to helping you with any healthcare and welfare concerns, such as supporting your family when moving to a new posting.

Find more information about support for armed forces families.