Medical Assessment FAQ’s
Although there are many stages to pass before you get to the medical stage of the recruitment process, it is a good idea to look in detail at the beginning of the process to understand if there are any medical conditions which may prevent you from passing the recruitment process.
Below is a comprehensive breakdown of some of the most common questions we receive to help guide you with your application;
Medical Assessment – FAQ’s
Click to find the Questions and Answers…
Q: I have a cold or I have symptoms of Covid19 infection / have had a positive test and been told to isolate. Should I still attend the medical?
A: No. This is not advisable as the cold can affect some of the tests we do like the lung functions and hearing tests.
Please do not attend with symptoms or until your isolation period is completed
Please telephone HR Recruitment and arrange a new appointment.
Q: I am waiting for an operation. Would this delay my application?
A: This depends on the type of operation, for example, is it a larger operation where a period of recovery is required or the outcome is unknown.
Minor procedures (for example, nails, benign skin lesions) would not usually delay the application process.
Q: I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. Can I join?
A: As long as you meet the vision standards for corrected vision (that is your vision with glasses or contact lenses).
You will be asked to see an optician to check your vision. The Optician will tell you if you don’t meet the standard. You must bring this report to your medical.
Q: I have been told I have a mild colour deficiency. It doesn’t really affect me.
Can I still become a firearms or Taser officer?
A: Mild colour blindness will not affect your application for the general role of ‘police officer’. However, there are very strict standards for firearms and Taser officers for obvious reasons. If you intended to apply for these roles in future, you would need to pass additional colour vision tests.
Q: When I was a baby I underwent heart surgery. I don’t know anything about the type of surgery I had. All I know is that I am absolutely fine now and do exercises and sports regularly.
Can I join the police?
A: This would depend on the underlying heart condition for which you had surgery. You may be absolutely fine however, in some cases there is the possibility of you needing further surgery at some point.We would advise you try to find out as much as possible about your operation and the condition and try to obtain copies of the old clinic letters. In some cases, a new cardiology assessment may be required. The 2 key questions that we need to address areif you can safely undertake strenuous physical exercises and what is the long-term prognosis of your heart condition.
Q: I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s which a form of autism.
Can I join the police?
A: You may still be able to join but might require reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act. It would be very helpful to see the report from when you had your diagnostic assessment. Such reports often come with a list of recommended adjustments. If you believe you may be on the autistic spectrum you should undergo an assessment before you apply. Whilst reasonable adjustments will be considered you should be able to effectively interact with members of the public and be able to take an empathetic approach. These are intrinsic qualities of the role of police officer.
Q: I have a skin condition, psoriasis. How would this affect my chances of joining the police?
A: Our assessment is made on a case-by-case basis. In most cases you should be able to join providing that the skin condition is either mild or very well controlled and is unlikely to interfere with your role. Further information may be required from your skin specialist.
Q: I have asthma. Will this prevent me from being a police officer?
A: If your asthma is mild and you only need a blue inhaler (Ventolin) this should not prevent you from being able to work as a police officer. You need to be able to work long hours on shifts, in all weathers and in all environments. If you have had severe asthma attacks, ever required hospital and / or ITU admission or required steroid tablets in the last 5 years you may not be suitable. We will need to get further information from your GP/specialist. Please bring copies of any specialist or clinic letters to the medical.
Q: I have Crohn’s disease, will I be suitable for the role of police officer?
A: We will need to get further information from your GP/specialist. Please bring copies of any specialist or clinic letters to the medical.
If your condition has not been successfully treated and you suffer frequent flare-ups you may not be suitable.
Q: I have had back surgery for a slipped disc. Can I join the police?
A: Police officers need to wear body armour, restrain offenders and handcuff during an arrest. A back condition could put you at risk of further injury and subsequent disability. We will need to get further information from your GP/specialist. Please bring copies of any specialist or clinic letters to the medical.
Q: My shoulder has dislocated a number of times and I have had surgery for this.
I had surgery on my knee after I ruptured my ACL. Will I be suitable for the role of police officer?
A: Police officer’s duties include restraining, grappling a suspect to the ground, carrying a riot shield and CPR. There is a high risk of recurrent dislocation whilst engaged in these duties and you may not be suitable for the role.
If ligament repair surgery has been carried out with excellent results, and no recurrence or instability over a five-year period whilst having a fully active lifestyle you are likely to be suitable.
For both conditions we will need to get further information from your GP/specialist. Please bring copies of any specialist or clinic letters to the medical.
Q: Since being passed as fit in my medical assessment I have suffered an injury/had a new medical diagnosis. Do I need to inform you about this?
A: You should advise us of any changes in your health status at any time and at all stages in the recruitment process.
Q: I understand the BMI must not be higher than 30. Is this a problem to my recruitment to join the police?
A: Our BMI standard is based on the College of Policing guidelines.
High body weight and fat tissue percentage are linked to joint problems, diabetes, heart problems and cancer. Where a BMI is above 30 we also look at body fat percentage. If this is outside of the standards we review again at a later date (usually 3 months). Losing weight (or rather fat tissue) is under your control and will demonstrate your commitment. With a healthy balanced low-carb diet and regular cardio exercise, weight loss can be achieved in several months.
Q: I do a lot of training and weight-lifting so my BMI is naturally much higher.
Is this a problem to my recruitment to join the police?
A: We recognise that BMI can be higher than normal in someone who weight trains and therefore has a higher muscle mass. We also look at body fat percentage. If this is outside the standards we defer pending a review at a later date (usually 3 months).
Q: I have a mental health problem. My friend says I don’t have to declare this as it would not help my application, and I am fine now. Can I not just omit this from the questionnaire?
A: Absolutely not. You have an obligation to declare all relevant health conditions; even if your health has been stable for a long period of time.
We place great emphasis on truthfulness and integrity. Withholding relevant health information can have serious consequences.
Q: I am taking antidepressants for depression. My depression is really well controlled. Would this affect my application?
A: Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. The severity is reflected by the type of antidepressant, its strength and the duration of treatment in addition to many other factors. It is also likely that we would ask your GP for more information to better understand the rationale for prescribing this medication.
We would also consider the 2004 Home Office guidance which generally advises against accepting recruits whilst they are still being treated with antidepressants and for a period of up to 24 months after stopping them. We recognise that this is guidance, but guidance holds a particular status in law. The main goal of the assessment is to determine your mental resilience and the probability of further episodes of impaired mental health. Police officers encounter stressful and distressing situations, physical confrontation and work long hours on shifts. Good mental resilience and emotional stability are paramount.
Q: A few years ago I went through a difficult time and took an overdose.
In hindsight, I deeply regret it. I was assessed at the hospital but I have not been given any specific diagnosis for this. Do I need to declare this?
A: Each decision is made after a careful consideration of the facts. It is also likely that we would ask your GP for more information. You have an obligation to declare all relevant conditions or adverse life events that could indicate either a medical condition or impaired mental resilience. Overdoses, self-harming, abnormal eating patterns, longer absences from work, mood swings, behavioural issues and excessive alcohol or substance use, past or present, should all be declared. We place great emphasis on truthfulness and integrity. Withholding relevant health information can have serious consequences.
Q: As I am on medication for depression I was told during my medical that I was not suitable for the role. I was advised that I should be off the medications and be symptom-free for 24 months. I went back to my GP who said I should stay on the medications for longer as they were helping me to remain well. Where do I stand here?
A: You must never stop taking medications merely to join the police.
If your GP has advised you to stay on the medication this usually signals that the GP has concerns that your mental health could deteriorate if you stop taking it. If this is the case your resilience may not be sufficient to cope with the very high demands of the police officer role. However, if you feel much better now (and this was just an isolated episode), your GP may decide to taper medications off gradually. Ultimately any decision regarding your care is between you and your GP. Our assessment is based on whether or not you are physically, psychologically and emotionally stable and fit to undertake the role.
Q: I have an invisible mental health condition and feel only I know how I feel. I have good and bad days. How can your doctor assess me? If I tell them I am fine should the doctor not just accept this?
A: Each decision is made after a careful consideration of the relevant facts.
Being a police officer is both mentally and physically demanding. You work shifts, you work under pressure, you see and experience terrible things.
As a police officer some members of the public disrespect you, treat you with contempt and may even assault you, so you have to be very strong and resilient in order to protect your own mental health.
We aim to assess your overall mental resilience and the likely prognosis of your condition over the course of your career.
This can be hard to do, however, there are criteria that can suggest a higher chance of a decline in your future mental health and resilience.
These factors include things like;
- a longstanding history of mental health issues
- multiple episodes of mental ill-health
- antidepressants prescribed for longer and at higher doses
- treatment with medications like antipsychotics
- hospital treatment for your mental ill-health
- struggles with minor adverse life events
- where there were no obvious triggers for a condition
- use of self-harming as a mal-adjusted coping mechanism
- history of suicide attempts
- behavioural problems
- substance abuse.
These may all be indicators that you are at a much higher risk of suffering mental ill health whilst working in the police. The kind of mental health condition you have had may also provide clues to its prognosis and the risk of relapses, deterioration and prognosis. When you join the police, we have a duty of care to protect your future wellbeing. This includes ensuring, as far as reasonably possible, that your mental health does not get worse due to the high demands of the role. We will assess your mental health according to these and other relevant criteria and we may also request further information from your GP.
Q: I have a specific disability and require certain reasonable adjustments at work.
What kind of adjustments can the police support?
A: The Equality Act 2010 means employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for a person with disability who:
- applies for a job, is offered employment, or is an employee, and;
- requires the adjustments in order to participate in the recruitment process or perform the genuine and reasonable requirements of the job
Some employees may need minor changes or adjustments to their work hours or the performance requirements of the job, while others may require specific equipment or some structural change to the workplace.
For the police this means you should still be able to fulfil an operational response role despite the need for certain adjustments.
In other words, you should be able to safely chase after and arrest a suspect, be able to drive a car (special constables may not have to drive) and make critical decisions under pressure.
Reasonable adjustments will be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the disability and an individual risk assessment.
Q: have epilepsy but have not had a seizure for 2 years. The DVLA is happy for me to drive a car. Can I join the police?
A: As long as your condition is stable, well-controlled and you have been seizure-free for at least 18 months, having epilepsy will not be a factor. However, your condition may require certain restrictions (which technically may also be considered as adjustments under the Equality Act). Police standards for driving can be higher than the DVLA, particularly for the higher levels of vocational driving.
If you are allowed to drive under the Group 1 standard of the DVLA (this means yearly risk of you having a seizure is assessed as no more than 20%) then you would be able to commute to and from work and undertake non-response driving whilst at work.
For response (blue-light) driving the DVLA Group 2 standard is used and you would be able to undertake this type of driving if your annual risk of suffering a seizure is no more than 2%. This is usually only the case if you have been off medications for ten years or more without suffering any further seizures.
We may contact your GP / specialist to better understand your risk of further seizures.
Q: My GP refuses to complete the medical questionnaire. The GP says I have never attended the surgery since my registration. Can the GP refuse to complete the questionnaire?
A: The fact you have never had to see your GP is good news. Countersigning the forms falls outside of the GP’s NHS contract therefore they may sometimes charge you for this service. You should ask the GP to sign off your health declaration on the basis of comparison with their own records. You may wish to direct the GP to this page.
Q: The GP refuses to answer the following question on my medical questionnaire: ‘From the medical records available, is there a medical reason why your patient should not undertake strenuous physical exercise?’
A: Whilst a GP does not know for sure whether you can safely undertake strenuous exercises, they can tell us of any medical reason they already know of that could suggest you cannot do so.
Q: The GP charged me for my application. Can I claim this back from the police?
A: We cannot reimburse applicants for fees charged by GP’s or other third parties. Most GPs will charge a reasonable fee for this type of work reflecting the time spent reviewing medical records and signing the document. Feel free to direct your GP to this webpage
Q: I have recently registered with a new GP. They are waiting for the old medical records. Who should complete the medical questionnaire? The new or the old GP?
A: Ideally, this should be the GP who has your records available to check over your questionnaire. Contact both GPs and let them know of your dilemma. This is a private service so it does not matter where you are currently registered. It only matters who has access to your records. If the records are already in transition then you may have to wait until the new GP has received them.
Q: I am in the Armed Forces and have no ordinary GP. Who should complete the medical questionnaire?
A: The doctor working for the Armed Force will be able to complete the form.
Q: The doctor who examined me for my application did not pass me fit.
How do I appeal against this decision?
A: You can appeal against this decision if you believe that your medical status has been incorrectly determined. You should submit new medical evidence to support your appeal, for example, a GP or specialist letter/report.
Appeals are anonymised and considered by a panel in order to decide if the information provided changes the original decision. Although there is no set time limit on the appeal you should contact HR Recruitment to find out if there are time limits on other aspects of the recruitment process.
Q: I have passed the interview stage and the fitness (bleep/ shuttle) test.
Is this a good time to hand in my resignation with my current employer?
A: You should take advice from HR Recruitment team regarding when to hand in your notice with your current employer.
The medical examination is one of the last assessments however, not every candidate is automatically passed ‘fit’.
Q: Will I automatically join the pension scheme?
A: Any medical condition which increases your risk of health problems later in life could increase your risk of early ill health retirement. This may require exclusion from the ill-health benefits component (the insurance component) of the Police Pension Scheme.
If this is likely you will be referred to an independent specialist to determine if you are fit to join the ill-health benefits component of the scheme.