Joining the RAF is a childhood dream for many. However dreams are currently being tarnished because of the RAF’s strict medical policies. It rejects candidates with seemingly manageable medical conditions.
Allan, age 17, has been rejected from the Royal Air Force because of a weak nut allergy which only causes swelling of the lips and doesn’t require an epipen to cure it despite being prescribed with one from his GP as a precaution. Allan sated ‘Epipens are for people at risk of an anaphylactic shock, not me.’
In 2018, Allan applied to become a Weapon Systems Officer with the aid of the Air Cadet Force which he has been attending for 5 years. The role requires managing sensors and weapons, collecting aerial reconnaissance and supporting troops on the ground from the confines of an aircraft. Yet the RAF has declined Allan’s application as he is categorised as ‘unfit for service’ because of the advice to carry an epipen.
The RAF is bound by the strict JSP 950 tri-service medical policy which states that those who need to carry an epipen are automatically designated as unsuitable for all roles.
In response to his rejection, Allan stated ‘I was absolutely enraged when I received a response to my appeal, I had not only been rejected from air crew but I couldn’t join the RAF at all.’
He continued ‘If a meal contains nuts… I pick them out. I know how to deal with my condition and I do so while doing my duties, with ease. I know well that being an Air Cadet is nothing like working in the RAF, but still it proves that I can perform my duties and I can look after myself at the same time.’
When Allan was asked what makes him suitable for the RAF, he stated ‘I’m enthusiastic about planes and how they operate. I’ve studied stuff like jet engine propulsion and the principles of flight. I’v been in the Air Cadets for 5 years now, I have been promoted through the rank structure and sure it’s not actually serving in the military but it’s taught me a lot of useful stuff that most who join the military wouldn’t have.’
This comes at a time when all military arms are under strength, some by up to 50%. The civilian recruitment company, Capita, is coming under intense scrutiny from MPs at the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee for not being able to bridge the armed forces personnel recruitment gap.
Allan and many others in his position have joined a campaign called Right To Fight which aims to change the armed forces medical policy to make ‘the medical standards fairer, more accessible and realistic whereby each recruit is judged on their personal attributes, life experience and the ability to operate effectively.’
The founder of the Right To Fight campaign, a recruit rejected from the Special Forces also for a nut allergy, stated ‘Allan is super enthusiastic about his career ambitions to join the RAF and is willing to put all of his effort in to make the most of a career in that organisation. It is keen candidates like Allan who are the solution to the current armed forces recruitment crisis. Allan needs to be able to prove his ability and potential in the RAF and not be subjected to a blanket ban on a medical condition which he has clearly and successfully managed’.
When asked what he thought of the current recruitment crisis, Allan stated ‘It’s absolutely enraging to me that the military is refusing people who have something to offer the military - especially when they appear to be crying out for people to join. If we can and are willing to serve, we should be given an equal chance to.’