"Permanently unsuitable"

Hi guys & gals,

Since Christmas I have been going through the application process to become a Biomedical Scientist in the British Army. I have an MSc in Medical Parasitology and as a consequence was offered a starting wage of £27,000 per annum and an immediate promotion to Corporal. This far exceed my wildest expectations and was absolutely delighted with the offer. The last hurdle I had to face was the medical... I was asked to visit the recruitment office today and was told in private that I was unfortunately "permanently unsuitable" for any role in the armed forces, and due to my medical records being confidential I have not (yet) been informed specifically why I was rejected.

The only past ailment I can think of that may have been an issue is my history of mild childhood epilepsy (what brand of epilepsy I do not know). I am 24 and I vaguely recall visiting the hospital at the age of 10-12, being diagnosed with epilepsy and soon after having my medication discontinued. I've been googling to see if there is any hope of me appealing against the decision. It appears there is a blanket policy against recruitment of anyone with a history of epilepsy after the age of 5. Is this the case for all roles in the armed forces? It seems slightly absurd considering I'll be in a lab and not on the frontline. Is there any hope for me to successfully appeal against this decision? Can I have a brain scan and prove there is no risk of symptoms recurring? Am I done for?

Cheer, Tim
Check the thread in the joining up regular forum - there is one all about medical matters. also look for JSP 346 it'll give you more detail.
I'm feeling all nice so here is a quote from the hollowed document itself

JSP 346 Chapter 3, Leaflet 8: Nervous system
Page 1 of 4 Amendment Date: Apr 07

Seizures and Epilepsy
3.8.3. Candidates diagnosed as having epilepsy or who have had more than one seizure after the age of five are to be graded P8.
The following should be noted:
3.8.4. Febrile convulsions. Candidates with febrile convulsions before the age of six years1, and with no subsequent seizures, may be graded P2.
3.8.5. Single seizures. Candidates with a single seizure less than 10 years prior to entry are graded P82. Candidates who have had a single seizure more than 10 years before entry, and who have not been on treatment during this interval, can be graded P2. They may still be unable to enter some trades, subject to single Service Regulations.
3.8.6. Provoked Seizures. Those with a history of provoked seizures should be assessed on a case by case basis and advice sought from the single Service Occupational Physician responsible for the selection of recruits. Consideration will also need to be given to fitness for service in relation to the provoking stimulus. It must be clear that the seizure had been provoked by a stimulus that does not carry any risk of recurrence and does not represent the unmasking of any underlying vulnerability.
3.8.7. Petit Mal (Absence Seizures). Childhood absence seizures are very rare in adulthood. Candidates with a history of typical childhood absence seizures with onset before the age of 10 years3, who have had no such seizures for five years (without treatment) may be graded P2.
3.8.8. Benign Rolandic Epilepsy of Childhood. Benign rolandic epilepsy usually stops at puberty. Candidates with a confirmed diagnosis of typical rolandic epilepsy of childhood, who have been seizure-free for five years (without treatment) may be graded P2.
Thankyou. I had the "Petit Mal" ones. If I was aged 10-12 when I first started having these absences then I might be stuffed, unless they make an exception based on no recurrence since then and the position I'm applying for. Although the rejection today would suggest otherwise. Ho hum, thanks for your help. I'll make an appeal, but won't get my hopes up.

Cheers, Tim
Mary Cameron is the boss. I don't know who Clive is. A black lady was in charge of Admin. 3 of the staff popped their clogs whilst I was there. The average age of parasitologists appears to be 70. Did you do the same course? Did you have John Williams for anything? He was my favourite.
The black lady, Anne-Marie, was one of my staff. I used to run the teaching support office but must have left just before your intake. Clive was Mary's Husband who used to run the course before he died quite young, again probably just before you joined. John is a great fella and he and I used to have some great laughs. I was also good mates with Quentin Bickle and, in fact, most of the ITD dept as I was in there before taking over the central office. I still pop back to see them all.

Sorry to hear about your problems, hope you can get it all sorted and get into green.
Yes, Anne-Marie took good care of us. She was incredibly patient when dealing with my bumbling stupidity. Her mother passed away whilst I was there and she took some time out towards the end of the academic year. I think Clive died just as I arrived, I was astonished when I first heard as Mary hadn't shown any signs of emotional distress. A very professional lady. Another, long serving member of staff died whilst I was there. I can't remember his name. Quentin Bickle is the vegetarian diver right? He lectured us quite regularly. Was schistosomiasis his speciality? Jeez, I forget. John was great fun. He made me genuinely interested in searching for amoebic cysts in faeces. Quite an achievement. He's now semi-retired, but still working for the school. He wrote one of my references for the Biomed job. Hopefully I'll be making use of these spectacularly specialist skills soon. And so begins the appeal process...

edit: Just found out I was diagnosed with petit mal in 1995, making me 9 years old at the time. I should fit the criteria. "Permanently unsuitable" seems to suggest that I have some debilitating illness that would hinder me/endanger others. Perhaps they made a mistake and didn't notice the epilepsy I had was petit mal? Maybe I really do have AIDS/HIV?
Good luck with the appeal, seems strange that you would be "permanently unsuitable" when it quite clearly states you should be graded as P2.

Can I just enquire into the rest of the terms of your offer? Would you have to do a top up year prior to being sent out to work as a BMS or do you have a BSc in Biomedical Science/Microbiology along with your MSc?

The training for BMS has just been changed and I believe the people due to start Uni in Sept will be the guinea pigs for it, not sure on the exact process but it will consist of however long you need to do at Uni and on succesful completion a course at the training school to get you ready for the operational role of our job and then onto either a unit or MDHU prior to you going on tour.

If you have had no further seizures then I don't forsee any problems, however if you have had any recurrence then I think your chances of becoming a BMS will become very unlikely. Although you may not be "on the front-line" you will be in a lab which still has various hazards that could cause you and the others you work with, serious health problems.
Can I just enquire into the rest of the terms of your offer? Would you have to do a top up year prior to being sent out to work as a BMS or do you have a BSc in Biomedical Science/Microbiology along with your MSc?
The prerequisite for acceptance onto any MSc course is a BSc. I did mine in Biological Sciences, although there was a considerable focus on parasitology which may have aided me in my acceptance onto the MSc course I did in London. My initial concern was that I would be required to do additional studying before being deployed (which I was not willing to do after endless years of education). However, due to me already having an MSc I would have skipped any further education and been deployed immediately. This is unusual and most Biomedical Scientist applicants would be required to go through several years of education before deployment. What specifically I would of been doing, I could never get the recruitment officers to explain to me. I'd assumed I would of started off teaching and supervising trainee Biomedical Scientists who were joining with just a handful of A levels to their names.

I finally recieved my letter detailing the reasons for my rejection today. As I suspected it was indeed my history of childhood epilepsy that put a spanner in the works. This has left me a little confused. According to the PULHHEEMS criteria listed above I should meet their requirements; I was 9 years old at the time of diagnosis with "Petit Mal", given the all clear 2 years later and have had no recurrence of symptoms since then. Has the PULHHEEMS criteria been adjusted recently? i.e. is the information above up to date?

How do I go about appealing against this decision? Do I collect as much of my medical history documentation and write a polite, but firm letter arguing my case? Should I mention the role I would of had in my covering letter? The letter I recieved states that "... not able to respond to letters that do not contain any new information...". I will not be giving any new information (assuming that my GP actually sent off an adequate medical history) merely correcting them on what I suspect is a mistake on the serverity of my former epilepsy. I wish I could talk to someone on the phone and get an immediate answer.

Any suggestions on what my appeal should consist of would be much appreciated.

Cheers, Tim

edit: could someone post a link to the nervous system PULHHEEMS document please. I can't seem to find it in the medical thread.
Hello Priapus, i totally had the same thing today! i was hammering it at the gym and got a phonecall from my dad saying the army wont take me!! was too upset to ask questions at the time but after the reading the letter i recieved its pretty much the same response as what you got, only i had a weakish bladder when i was around 14/15. Im 26 in july. i went to the hospital about it was given tablets for around a month and also had urethral dialation, which worked so i never went back and didnt continue taking the tablets. i didnt have any problems since and all is well in that department. What annoys me the most is the letter says i failed because of my 'long history of bladder problems'. thats complete rubbish because it wasnt a long history, it only affected me for around 1 year and after visiting the hospital all was well.

All i can think of is because i didnt go back or let them know everything sorted itself out the army think that the case is still open and my problems are still ongoing.

i am going to appeal and fight to the death because thats how much i want this. the army is my life.

has anyone had the same problem or does anyone know what my chances are of them saying yes if they review my case??

Im not keen on the words 'permanently unsuitable'

what am i going to do?!!! x
Were you applying for a Biomedical position too? I'm beginning to fear the army is closing up shop and only taking on those perfect specimens with absolutely no previous history of medical problems. I think it's best not to put all your eggs in this increasingly rickety looking basket. I intend to fight their decision aswell, but am not going to get my hopes up.

And yes, the phrase "permanently unsuitable" is very depressing.
yes i think that too. recon we are screwed to be honest but i feel a bit discrimanted against. i just cant see myself doing anything else but this, its something ive always wanted to do. was going for operator military intellignce, communications operator or RMP. phoning around tomo to get the ball rolling with my appeal cos they havent heard the last from me! x
I was not enquiring in to the prerequisite of your MSc I was asking for the terms in which the Recruitment people led you to believe that as a newly qualified BMS in the Army that you would deploy almost immediately in to a multidisciplinary role without any consolidation training? Did you visit the team at Keogh and speak to our head of CEG or is this something the recruitment team at the careers office told you?

No disrespect to your qualifications but we dont have time on tour to teach people how to use the equipment that we use in the field, we have a specific course for that run by the school plus we do try to consolidate training prior to sending people out to theatre. Your qualification would hold you in good stead to teach in the school but I am unsure of any Cpl slots at the training school and again, you would have to be multidiscipline trained as you would be expected to teach other aspects of our trade and not just parasitology.

As far as what you would be doing when you get in, if you go to a field unit you would be in charge of the pathology equipment there, don't get excited though as most of it is boxed and will remain boxed until you go on exercise where you will finally get to set it up to realise that you have no clinical specimens or controls to actually run them. If you go to a MDHU then you will be part of the workforce there, no teaching I am afraid unless they hold a lunch time meeting and you wich to participate. Senior NCO's tend to look after the trainees (SSgt & above) and the trained BMS staff Cpl & Sgt.

If you would like further information on what we do as a trade and not the crap you have been belt fed by the Careers office feel free to PM me.
As someone in the know, if you fall within the criteria to pass but haven't been (which would appear to be the case with you) then fight this ******* bollocks hard. ******* ridiculous.

It is definitely, definitely worth fighting. CMPs (Civilian Medical Practitioners) in particular seem to often take great delight in turning someone down incorrectly.
Thanks for your support. Hearing that from someone "in the know" is genuinely reassuring. Unless I've made some spectacular error, all the information provided is accurate. The appeal went off last week, so the moment of truth may be soon.

Fingers crossed.
As someone in the know, if you fall within the criteria to pass but haven't been (which would appear to be the case with you) then fight this ******* bollocks hard. ******* ridiculous.

It is definitely, definitely worth fighting. CMPs (Civilian Medical Practitioners) in particular seem to often take great delight in turning someone down incorrectly.
I thought hard about posting this, but here goes. Seems to me that many so called health care professionals are actually a bit thick. Especially doctors. I have had many experiences with doctors where they have seemed to deliberately misunderstand information that is presented to them. This is partly due to the fact that some of them simply don't properly read the instructions under which they work. An example, sorry its out of context for your case but it illustrates the point I am making: My doctors surgery advertises that it provides health care, counselling, inoculations, smoking advice.. in fact almost everything bar window cleaning. So I asked my doctor for a prescription for a low daily dose of Doxycycline to take whilst in Angola for contribution to malaria prophylaxis. Absolutely not, he responds and then says Doxy etc is certainly not an anti malaria drug. So I nip next door to the nurses office and grab the WHO poster about Malaria and the drugs used to help prevent it and show him that Doxy etc is clearly listed. He harrumphs and fiddles with his pens before writing me a script. My guess is that the practitioner who did your assessment speed read his way through the **** off criteria and only took in the subject headings, so when you presented him with a subject heading, he reacted by writing a **** off note. This is in any case the safest thing for him to do since, should you go on to join the army based on an assessment from him that you are ok and it turns out that you are not, he could face questions being asked (probably not actually).

I would fight it. Good luck and let us know how you get on.

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