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Armed Forces: Asthma

Volume 471: debated on Wednesday 30 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will review the medical criteria for acceptance into the armed forces of people with asthma; (179755)

(2) if he will take steps to ensure that people with asthma are not automatically rejected upon application to the armed forces.

[holding answer 17 January 2008]: It is essential that all recruits to the armed forces are operationally effective, and the medical tests that they undergo on recruitment are designed to ensure this. Examining medical officers will consider each applicant on his or her own merit and apply their clinical judgement individually. Because of its potentially adverse effect on performance and respiratory fitness, and because of the requirement for long term access to respiratory medication, and possible associated medical care, candidates who have a current wheezing condition will in almost all cases be rejected. Candidates who have been free from symptoms and off all treatment for a period of at least four years may be considered for employment, subject to further assessment of their respiratory function.

We do review the medical standards for entry to the armed forces on a regular basis, and update them as appropriate. The guidance on respiratory conditions was last reviewed and updated in September 2006.