Over 14,000 British Army applicants are said to have been declined for having acne and minor food allergies over the course of the last couple of years, in line with strict Ministry of Defence rules, The Times reported. The large-scale rejection has in the meantime prompted multiple accusations that the ministry’s recruiting agency, Capita, which is in charge of conducting medicals for armed forces applicants, is gravely misinterpreting the ministry’s health regulations.
It might be viewed as an indicator that the army is significantly overstaffed, with medical regulations treating even minor ailments that an applicant suffers from to be sufficient reason to deem their application to be a no-go. However, this is by far not the case, since the force is still 5,000 soldiers short of its 82,000 recruitment target, with the army struggling to enlist soldiers, according to the British edition.
Apart from a pervasive debate on the issue, the “unfair” approach has even prompted one staffer, a lady who used to assess recruits, to quit the job as she had to “turn down too many”. “It was wrong”, The Times quoted her as saying.
To illustrate her choice to counter the system, she brought up an example of a 16-year-old who was rejected as it emerged that he had previously been given an inhaler, which he appeared to have not used once in his lifetime.
Guidelines from the MoD’s medical standards notably revolve around whether or not the applicant is “physically and mentally fit enough to train, serve and fight anywhere in the world”.
The backlash hasn’t stopped at that, however, with a special campaign, dubbed the Right to Fight, having now been launched for the ministry to revise the rules. The enthusiast behind it is 28-year-old Eddie, who was turned down by the force due to a nut allergy, despite claiming that he had never suffered a single reaction after eating meals in his life.
British politicians were also quick to weigh in, with former Armed Forces Minister and a Member of the Commons Defence Select Committee Mark Francois noting that although the medical standards should by no means be lowered to secure a more active enrolment, the already existing norms should be interpreted by contractors “more intelligently”.