What are the Rates of Medical Downgrade in the UK Armed Forces?

What is the percentage of personnel downgraded by service?

  • 7% of UK Naval Service personnel were medically downgraded (MLD or MND) on a permanent basis;
  • 11% of UK Army personnel were medically downgraded to (MLD or MND) on a permanent basis; and
  • 6% of UK RAF personnel were medically downgraded to (MLD or MND) on a permanent basis.

Terms

  • MFD = Medically Fully Deployable.
  • MLD = Medically Limited Deployable.
  • MND = Medically Not Deployable.
  • MDS = Medical Deployability Standard.
  • DMICP = A centralised data warehouse of coded information.
  • JPA = Joint Personnel Administration is the intranet-based personnel administration system used by the British Armed Forces from April 2006 onwards, replacing the separate payment and administration teams from each of the three Services.

Tables 1 to 3 outline the number and percentage of personnel medically downgraded, by MDS and permanent downgrading status for each service, as at 01 December for each of the last 10 years (as recorded by JPA and DMICP).

Table 1: UK Armed Forces Naval Service Personnel Medically Downgraded, by MDS, permanent status and year, numbers and percentages: 01 December 2010 to 01 December 2019.

YearAllMLD, All, No.MLD, All, %MLD, Perm, No.MLD, Perm, %MND, All, No.MND, All, %MND, Perm, No.MND, Perm, %
201035,4251,95761,25742,95385352
201134,4601,82651,23342,80484691
201231,9361,82661,17442,80393751
201330,6671,75861,14742,75193291
201430,2051,84261,15242,85893801
201529,7361,91561,15442,871103381
201629,4531,97571,31442,79894281
201729,2972,06371,50052,75594972
201829,1182,11271,53852,817105022
201928,9232,15871,53952,934105232

Table 2: UK Armed Forces Army Personnel Medically Downgraded, by MDS, permanent status and year, numbers and percentages: 01 December 2010 to 01 December 2019.

YearAllMLD, All, No.MLD, All, %MLD, Perm, No.MLD, Perm, %MND, All, No.MND, All, %MND, Perm, No.MND, Perm, %
2010102,03015,243159,24896,80171,9992
201199,94515,123159,496107,25771,9602
201296,51013,081148,78798,06181,9692
201391,33511,756137,953137,95392,0032
201484,18610,228126,67988,356101,8222
201580,28910,062136,46988,292101,8652
201679,0279,998136,72998,062102,1203
201777,4599,964136,86997,21991,7692
201876,0279,808136,81696,63291,6092
201973,5439,630136,60196,75291,5542

Table 3: UK Armed Forces RAF Personnel Medically Downgraded, by MDS, permanent status and year, numbers and percentages: 01 December 2010 to 01 December 2019.

YearAllMLD, All, No.MLD, All, %MLD, Perm, No.MLD, Perm, %MND, All, No.MND, All, %MND, Perm, No.MND, Perm, %
201139,0391,6444814823,999104291
201236,4351,495480623,745104212
201333,8371,488484023,581114021
201432,2491,409481133,456113881
201531,2291,543585433,553114081
201630,8671,756694633,368114591
201730,5351,90361,11443,322115142
201829,9752,06471,19043,469125302
201929,8132,29081,29343,662125582

What where the top three (3) causes for medical downgrading?

As at 01 May 20193 (latest compiled data), for those medically downgraded, the top three (3) principal causes of medical downgrading in the UK Regular Armed Forces were:

  • Musucloskeletal Disorders and Injuries (56%);
  • Mental and Behavioural Disorders (13%); and
  • Ear and Mastoid Process Diseases (5%).

A brief outline the medical downgrading process

Service personnel with medical conditions or fitness issues which affect their ability to perform their duties are assessed in Primary Care or referred to a Medical Board for a medical examination and review of their medical grading.

A medical downgrading occurs when personnel are assigned a MDS of MLD or MND. The patient may be downgraded to allow for treatment and rehabilitation:

  • MLD:
    • Personnel medically fit for duty with minor employment limitations.
    • MLD personnel may have a medical condition or functional limitation that prevents the meeting of all MFD requirements.
  • MND:
    • Personnel medically fit for duty with major employment limitations.
    • MND personnel are not fit to deploy on Operations but may be deployable on UK based exercises and should be able to work effectively for at least 32.5 hours per week.

When a Medical Board awards a Joint Medical Employability Standard (JMES) including an MDS of MLD or MND, a decision is made as to whether the JMES is a temporary or permanent.

The maximum period of validity of a temporary JMES is 12 months. A permanent marker does not imply that the JMES can never change – it is intended to assist personnel staff involved with employment decisions by distinguishing the longer-term health problems from the relative short term ones.

Reference

FOI 2020/00248 dated 03 February 2020.

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