CaduceusInitial medical screening of military recruits is usually done by a general practitioner (GP) before they leave home for basic training.

However, the medical screening of potential recruits by GPs often fails to identify some chronic conditions which subsequently result in medical discharge during training.

The Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI, 2005, p.39) notes that:

“Medical assessment depends too heavily on self-declaration of conditions which might make military service problematic.  The results are a worrying unreliability in identifying concerns serious enough to prompt early medical discharge, for example asthma, heart murmur, poor eyesight or problems with their feet.”

The rate of medical discharge rose steadily throughout the 1990s in all four branches of the British armed services, although the rate varied significantly from establishment to establishment (ALI, 2005).

In their follow-up report the ALI (2007) noted that, although the armed forces cannot insist on full disclosure of an individual’s medical records ahead of an offer of employment, the Army is running a trial medical questionnaire with GPs in order to reduce the reliance on recruits’ self-declaration.

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