NZDF primary health care explained

Providing defence personnel with comprehensive primary care and referral services.

NZDF Health Services 

NZDF Regular Force personnel

Regular Force members have access to comprehensive healthcare and preventative health measures to maintain the health standard required to meet the demands of military service. This includes primary healthcare (including oral health); trauma and emergency management (at DHC's that provide this service); and occupational health monitoring and advice. Defence Health also facilitates access to secondary/tertiary care provision.

Regular Force personnel on leave

Personnel on leave in New Zealand (including Leave Without Pay) are entitled to access the same level of care as if on duty. All treatments are to be arranged in consultation with a Defence Health Centre (DHC) facility.

Reserve Force personnel

Reserve Force personnel undertaking duties on NZDF exercises or activities can access Defence Health services in the event of a health emergency. They may also access other available NZDF health support services when the nature of the health issue and the context of the activity (e.g. geographical location and or exercise duration) makes it appropriate to do so.

Note. Reserve Force personnel on a Short-Term Regular Force Engagement are deemed to be Regular Force and are therefore entitled to the same conditions as those in the Regular Force. For operational service and overseas posting, consult with your posting authority to confirm access to Defence Health services.

NZDF Civilian staff

NZDF civil staff can access Defence Health services in Camps and Bases, in the event of a health emergency only. Defence Health will provide emergency treatment until the point that external public health providers are available to take over care. Once the emergency treatment has been completed, any subsequent treatment is to be provided by public health providers. All associated costs are the responsibility of the individual.

Note: NZDF civilian staff, members of NZ government agencies, and civilian guests of the NZDF on NZDF activities, may be able to access the same health treatment as Regular Force personnel for the duration of the activity in accordance with specific instruction related to the activity.

Released personnel

Personnel who have commenced a course of treatment prior to release may have that treatment managed by Defence Health at the discretion of the Chief Medical Officer/Chief Dental Officer, or be referred to an outside provider. This is to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. A released military person may also be entitled to coverage by Veterans Affairs New Zealand.

Other groups

For more information on provision of care for NZDF community members, Cadet Forces, Youth Development Units and more, refer to the NZDF Health Policy: Health Instruction: 018/16: Access to Healthcare.

NZDF Healthcare provisions

The Health Services Catalogue (HSC) documents detail the agreed scope of services that health providers should deliver and make available to NZDF serving personnel. For more information regarding NZDF Health policy, updated versions, or additional services please speak with your GP at your DHC.

Regular Force personnel: accessing external providers

Standard medical care - service personnel who require care where a Defence Health facility is not available, may obtain medical treatment from a civilian provider with pre-approval from Defence Health. In cases of medical emergency, service personnel are not required to gain pre-approval.

If you need care from an external provider, retain a certificate and/or receipt for reimbursement of fees, as well as a copy of your medical notes so they can be entered into your NZDF health records.

NZDF Medical Board

NZDF medical boards are provided to all Regular Force personnel on a periodic basis. The frequency of these will be dependent on your age and the nature of your role. 

As part of your medical board the Medical Officer (MO) will complete a physical health screen as well as vision and hearing tests. Your medical board will be used to determine your medical grading.

From time to time your medical grade may change. You may be carrying an injury or a health concern that requires rest, further investigation or treatment. In these cases, your grading is likely to be adjusted to ensure you are not asked to do duties that might impede your recovery. In some cases, this may affect your short-term ability to deploy overseas or to do vigorous activity, ensuring you can focus on recovery and get the best support possible. Sometimes we may develop health conditions that change our medical grade review to be more frequent e.g. 3, 6, or 12 months. This is so the MO can review you more often and ensure your illness/injury can be managed in a timely fashion. 

Sometimes a medical downgrading can cause concern about longer-term career impacts. However, a MO will only give a long term non-deployable medical grade on rare occasions, and after extensive consultation with a senior MO.

Talk to your local MO about this if you are concerned.

Medical grading explained

For more detailed information on how medical gradings are categorised click here or refer to the Defence Medical Standards below and discuss with your GP at the DHC.