THE standard and availability of secondary healthcare, such as physiotherapy and screening, varies depending on where you’re posted overseas. Whilst Defence Medical Services aims to provide healthcare to a similar standard to the NHS, it’s not always possible due to limited facilities.

In places with high Service populations there’s generally full provision, but in other areas there can be a mix of service providers. In more remote locations, there may be limited services and you’ll need to return to the UK for some appointments. If you develop a condition that requires longer term treatment, you may be assigned back to the UK.

Karen Brodin-Cole’s daughter Grace has had to wear glasses from the age of two. In Brunei, local hospitals and opticians provide this service, but as Grace was under five she could remain under the NHS back in the UK.

“We did try and use the facilities at the local hospital saving us an 18-hour flight,” explained Karen. “But we found the care was not up to standard and we decided to stick with the care back home.”

Army spouse Scott Longhurst picked up a shoulder injury playing rugby in Brunei. The process from diagnosis to getting physio has been very prolonged, with lots of to-ing and fro-ing between the medical centre, local hospital and the UK. “It has taken over four months to discover the extent of the injury and I still don’t have any concrete answers,” said Scott.

“I think you just need to be patient. Things work differently in other countries and it may take longer than you expected.”

Do your research

AFF receives enquiries on a range of secondary healthcare issues such as health visitor support, well woman scans and assisted conception.

Regional Manager Overseas Esther Thomas recommends doing your research: “Declare any medical issues your family may have at the earliest opportunity. The processes in place are there to support your family’s health whilst overseas and not to prevent you from going.”

If you have a question about secondary healthcare overseas, contact or

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