Taking control of your health

Registering with local health services like a GP after your leave the Armed Forces is essential, but your medical records don’t automatically transfer to your doctor. We look at how to access your medical records and register with health services after time in the military.

Upon leaving the Armed Forces, registering with your local health services like a GP, dentist and an optician is essential. This is particularly important if you need support for an injury or condition directly linked to your time in the military.

Telling your GP that you are a veteran opens the door to specialist services like dedicated veteran mental health services and referrals to Veteran Aware hospitals if you require treatment.

In order to provide you with the best care your GP and dentist will require access to your medical records. This is information about any health conditions, medicines or allergies you have and any treatment you have received in the past.

Without your medical records your GP or dentist won’t be aware of your medical history. This can make the registration process longer and delay the provision of medicine like repeat prescriptions.


GPs are usually the first medical point of contact within the NHS and are arguably the most important service to register with.

Registering with a GP or dentist means that you can access health services quickly and easily. It is particularly important to register with a GP if you have an ongoing health condition like asthma or diabetes.

Services from your GP will be provided and paid for by the NHS, whereas dentist services are subsidised by the NHS.

This means you will pay a reduced price at the dentist if you require treatment. You can locate your closest GP or dental practice here.

A GP practice can refuse to register you if they are not taking on new patients or if you live outside of its practice boundaries. Registering with a GP close to your home address means it is easier if a doctor has to visit you at home when you are ill.

If a GP can’t register you, you can contact another surgery in your area. Calling in advance to check if they are taking on new patients can save both you and the GP surgery time.

Once you have contacted a GP and they have confirmed they can take you on as a patient, you will be asked to fill out a registration form.

This form will ask for your name, date of birth, address, contact details, service or personnel number and your address before enlisting in the Armed Forces.


Did you know, when you return to civvy street your medical records will not transfer automatically?

Instead, you will receive a summary record of your in-service health history when you are discharged, which you should then give to your GP once you register.

This summary will contain details of how your GP can obtain your full medical records.

If you didn’t receive a summary record, or you have misplaced it, your GP can still request your medical records. They will have access to contact details for the relevant office in each military branch to do this.

Alternatively, you can obtain your own service and medical records from the requests for personal data and service records available on the government website.

When you register with a new GP they will have to verify your time in the Armed Forces, but the new Veteran ID Cards will streamline this process to ensure you are registered as fast as possible.


Your GP is responsible for providing your care during normal working hours from Monday to Friday. They should always be your first port of call for health concerns unless there is an emergency.

If you need care for an urgent medical problem outside of working hours you can contact your out of hours GP service or call NHS24 on 111.

To access your out of hours GP service, call the surgery’s regular number and you will be directed to this service or advised to contact NHS24. If you contact an out of hours service the GP on call will ask you questions about your condition and evaluate if you need to see a doctor immediately or whether you can wait until the surgery is next open.

GP out of hours services are optional and not available at every surgery. If your surgery does not run this NHS24 is the next step to get medical advice. An NHS24 advisor will ask you questions about your condition and consult a medical professional before giving advice or referring you to your closest minor injuries unit if required.

In an emergency always call 999.


The new Veteran ID Cards began being rolled out as of February 2019. The cards are designed to help Armed Forces veterans access specialist support and services, as well as maintain a connection to your career in the military.

Any personnel who has left the military since December 2018 will automatically receive one of the cards. Veterans who left the Armed Forces before this date will be able to apply for the new ID card by the end of 2019.

A Veteran ID Card allows veterans to easily verify their service to the NHS, their local authority and charities. This cuts out the need for time-consuming checks by your GP or other healthcare professionals and will help you access specialist support and services.

The cards are part of the government’s Strategy for our Veterans, led by Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood.

We’ll be keeping you updated on the new Veteran ID Cards, when you can apply and how to apply.

Contact Veterans Gateway on 0808 802 1212 or visit www.veteransgateway.org.uk for additional assistance or support.

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