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Service Personnel

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions (a) he and (b) his officials have had with the Department of Health on ensuring that service personnel and their families returning from overseas are able to register easily with GPs and dentists. (106713)

Service personnel do not register with NHS GPs or dentists, as their primary health care is provided by the Defence Medical Services (DMS).

We acknowledge that service personnel and their families who move into a new area in the UK, including those returning from overseas, often have problems obtaining access to NHS GPs and dentists in the new region. This has been one of the five major issues on the Service Families Task Force (SFTF) Tri-Service Families Action Plan.

A joint MOD/DH Partnership Board, co-chaired by senior MOD and DH personnel, meets three times a year to monitor complex relationships that exist between the two departments and the devolved UK health departments and to explore mutual areas of co-operation. Under the umbrella of the Partnership Board, numerous other official level discussions, both formal and informal, take place as required at the national and local level, to address the health needs of Service personnel and their dependants across the entire patient care pathway.

Primary Care Trusts are obligated to ensure that all entitled individuals have access to NHS primary care. MOD and DH are monitoring the extent to which this is happening, and will take the appropriate action if this is not the case.

The MOD has investigated service families’ access to dental treatment, and we have been advised of initiatives being implemented by the UK Health Departments that are intended to improve access to NHS dental care throughout England, Scotland and Wales. These initiatives should provide universal access within two years. The MOD is monitoring the progress of these plans.