So near yet so far

I'm afraid I am popping my forum-posting cherry with complaint mixed in with a cry for help and advice.

Having passed AOSB in August of last year and secured sponsorship from a regiment, I was gearing up to go to Sandhurst this January. I had further regimental visits planned, infantry/cavalry/engineers/you-name-it potential officer courses booked left, right and centre.

Unfortunately, when Sandhurst requested my full medical records from my GP, they took issue with my history of childhood eczema. It was not severe in any way, but did require monitoring for a number of years with the usual hydrocortizone treatment from time to time. I was then unaffected from the age of about 11 until two years ago, when I got a flare-up due to a high fever I contracted after visiting Brazil.

Needless to say, I am absolutely distraught because of the decision. Luckily I had had the forethought to have other irons in the fire in case my application did not go through, and at the last minute was able to sign on to a Masters course, which I am studying for now. Whilst I still debating whether or not to launch an appeal, I decided to try and sign up with the TA, and duly passed the medical with flying colours (as I had done at Westbury before AOSB). The TA doctor said that I looked perfectly healthy and that my medical records would not need to be delved in to - he put me down as 'fully deployable'.

Two things still rankle with me:
1) That two such different conclusions can be reached by consummate medical professionals about the same candidate
2) That for my Sandhurst application, no attention whatsoever was paid to my individual merits. I am an Ironman triathlete, have competed and sweated at county or university level for cross-country, road cycling and athletics since the age of 15, and have never had even the remotest bit of skin irritation other than during my illness in 2008.

Given that my 'pass' at AOSB lasts for a number of years, I am wary of launching an appeal too soon without first strengthening my case to the best of my ability. I am hoping to have a private word with my GP to ask if he can write me a positive letter explaining my suitability for active regular service, and also a referral to a consultant dermatologist that my sponsoring regiment recommended as 'on side' in these matters.

For those of you who are still with me (quite a feat), I would be most grateful for any further advice you could give me as to how best to go on from here.

I am due to finish my masters in September, so I am looking to launch my appeal with a view to getting back on track for the January 2011 entry to Sandhurst. Failing that, does anyone know if, once I commission with my TA regiment, I could transfer across to a regular regiment?

I really want to be sure I have exhausted every avenue before I resign myself to a life of action-packed bureaucracy and office politics in Her Majesty's Civil Service, or something equally unpalatably pleasing to my parents.

Many thanks
I would suggest that you discuss the issue in depth (ideally informally to start with) with an army doctor. If you don't know one, you may be forced down the line of the medical appeal process. Unfortunately I can't advise you further on this, never having been through it.
brave-coward said:
I would suggest that you discuss the issue in depth (ideally informally to start with) with an army doctor.
The interesting thing is that I did actually try during my TA medical. Having stripped down to my boxers (upon request, not of my own volition), the doctor examined me and said I was perfectly fit and healthy. As he went through all the tick-boxes, he eventually reached the 'skin conditions' one, in which I had carefully explained my history of eczema. After a brief pause, he ticked the box, so I questioned him - partly because I was surprised that he had done what Westbury had not, and partly because I feared it might become an issue at a later stage if my medical records were requested.

He just looked at me with a slight frown, asked me if anything was wrong with my skin at the moment, and upon receiving my reply, looked back down again and carried on with the paperwork. I then asked if my medical records would be an issue, and he answered with a resounding, "Noooooop! Right, you're good to go. I'm putting you down as fully deployable - enjoy the TA. NEXT!"

And that was that.
So does it all come down to the individual quack examining you or having a nosy at your records? I'm in a similar situation. I've had eczema throughout childhood but I haven't had to get anything prescribed for it in the last 2-3 years. Westbury have given me medical clearance on the proviso that I come and have a chat with them at some stage during my briefing. I have visions that some doctor that I've never met will decide to bin me because they've had bad day and dashing somebody's hopes of joining the army is a sure fire way to cheer oneself up.
I have slight eczema on my hand but it is literally a couple of tiny patches, however I am taking medication, do you think this would be a problem? :S
BraveUlysses said:
Westbury have given me medical clearance on the proviso that I come and have a chat with them at some stage during my briefing.
Wouldn't worry about this too much if I were you. I had one of these chats at the Briefing (not eczema-related), and from my experience and those of others I spoke to, it really is just for clarification purposes. If you don't display any current symptoms it's basically for you to convince the doctor you're ok.
They're not actively looking to fail you medically, they just have to ensure that any conditions you have aren't going to affect you effectiveness in either training or operations.

My example: took medication for acne in my teens. Was asked if I suffered severely, to the extent that it could cause problems carrying weight or be at risk to infection? - No. Do I still take medication (a problem since this may not be available on operations) - Not for years. "No problem then, good luck with the rest of AOSB".
BraveUlysses said:
So basically come in with clear skin and a confident attitude and I'll be grand?
Not quite. The nurses/doctors at Westbury will smile and nod and move you along at that stage. It gets trickier when they ask for your full medical records from your GP, which I think is standard procedure in the immediate months before you start at Sandhurst.

I even had a friend who had actually started his pre-course training week and got pulled up for something that they found on his medical records (knee, I think it was, which is a rather crucial injury, it has to be said).

I would have thought with a condition as variable and often benign as eczema, there would have been a more case-by-case, individualistic approach. But then what do I know, I may have been the proverbial scrapings of the barrel of all the officer recruits that the army admitted this year and therefore rather less valuable than the soldier-scholar-statesman competition.
So does anybody know what the benchmark is? If one exists at all? A friend of a friend is joining the Marines and his asthma came back with a vengeance. I think he had to wait three years without treatment before he could apply again.
Does anyone who has recently gone through the army medical know if they will fail you for acne or not?.i am fit and healthy and this does not affect me i dont see it should be a problem. I would just like answers from someone who has gone through ADSC?
Sgs1, I've heard that unfortunately eczema on your hands is something the army particularly dislikes when it comes to eczema. Because you're hands will be interacting with possible irritants (oils,greases and detergents) more than other parts of your body it may cause a flare up and mean you're unable to use your hands effectively eg. use your firearm for example or whatever.

This PDF file goes through it and I believe is an official medical document that army doctors look at in regards to eczema.
Hope this helps.

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