The Right to Fight campaign sent a letter...
... to both the Secretary of State for Defence and the Minister of State for the Armed Forces. The letter included our aims, objectives, case studies of those who have tried to join the British Armed Forces with manageable medical conditions and of those who have fought in the Armed Forces in the past with medical ailments which equal a bar to service in 2019. It also included notes of support from you, our supporters, to show the backing of the campaign. Here is their response…
Please share your thoughts and comments below:
Dear Right to Fight,
Thank you for your letter to myself and Rt Hon Mark Lancaster, Minister of State for the Armed Forces. Please accept this as a response to both correspondence.
Let me begin by expressing my sincere admiration for the Right to Fight campaign, and I appreciate you providing us with information about it. While I am unable to comment on the individual cases you mention, I do recognise the concerns expressed in your letter and the understandable disappointment felt by anyone not permitted to serve for medical reasons.
In the Ministry of Defence (MOD) we value diversity and are committed to recruiting and retaining the best people possible, whether military or civilian. It is important that our Armed Forces reflect the society they serve and benefit from the talent that is available. Equally, what we expect the Services to do is uniquely challenging, so it is essential that all new entrants being recruited are fit, healthy and able to serve for the period of their engagement.
I appreciate the view that medical conditions are manageable in the Armed Forces but, regrettably, this is not always the case. To ensure operational efficiency, we recruit all personnel on the basis that they can deploy quickly anywhere in the world. It is right, therefore, to consider anything in a candidate’s medical history, inherent or acquired, that could predispose them to injury or illness. We know that the reemergence and exacerbation of medical conditions in Service can place both individuals at excessive risk, and their colleagues who rely on them. For the same reason, serving personnel who develop conditions during their career, might be medically downgraded and, in some cases, discharged on medial grounds.
We recognise the importance of Service medical standards being evidence and current. Accordingly, they are kept under continual review by specialist occupational physicians from the three Services. This ensures that they take account of the most up-to-date medical evidence, including improved diagnostic procedures and treatments. Advice is sought from both MOD and external specialists in developing scientific rationale for the standards.
Every Armed Forces application is considered on merit and; if it is rejected on medical grounds, a candidate can appeal the decision with additional medical information. I am sorry for any delays you might have encountered in the appeals process.
I trust this further explains matters and thank you once again for your letter.
- THE RT HON BEN WALLACE MP