Civilian doctors were assured they would remain ‘absolutely core’ to defence primary care following its radical shake-up, at the BMA civilian doctors conference last week.
Primary care services for military personnel and their families in the UK, currently delivered separately across the three armed forces, are being merged into a single service by April 2014.
Royal Air Force chief of staff and director of general medical services Aroop Mozumder, who is leading the merger, told civilian doctors at the conference that they should see very little change in their day-to-day practice but they were ‘key to making this work’.
He said: ‘There will be a very significant role for civilian medical practitioners in the future of defence medicine. This will not change.’
Under the plans, the UK will be divided into nine regions, each with a regional headquarters and led by a medically qualified regional director. If a region has, for example, a considerable number of army personnel, it is likely to be headed by an army medic, at least initially.
Trial of champions
The new system will be piloted in the Portsmouth area, where 25,000 military personnel are based, in January.
Air vice-marshal Mozumder said this would ‘make sure we understand ... how a region will stand up and deliver what it has to deliver’.
He said, while there were still issues to be addressed, he believed it would be a better way to deliver primary care.
Depending on the results of the pilot, the merger is due to start next April and be completed by April 2014.