We have listed some common questions regarding health conditions and the police constable recruitment process.
The questions are split into five categories for ease;
disabilities (Equality Act)
obtaining sign-off from a GP
1. Physical health conditions
I have a cold. Should I still attend the medical?
No. This is not advisable as the cold can affect some of the tests we do like lung function and hearing.
Please call us and arrange a new appointment.
I am waiting for an operation. Would this delay my application?
This depends on the type of operation, for example; if you are having a larger operation where a period of recovery is required, or the outcome is unknown, it may delay your application. However, minor procedures (for example, nails, benign skin lesions) would not usually delay the application process.
I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. Can I join?
In most cases yes, provided your diabetes is well managed, blood sugar control is satisfactory and most importantly, you are not prone to hypoglycaemic episodes requiring additional assistance.
Restrictions to driving may be required. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
When you attend your medical, bring along your blood sugar meter and information from the GP/Diabetic Clinic regarding overall management of your condition and your latest HbA1C. If you use an app to track levels, you may wish to show us your readings.
I wear glasses for short-sightedness. Without glasses my vision is poor. Would I be suitable for the role of police officer?
Yes, as long as you meet the vision standards for corrected vision (that is your vision with glasses or contact lenses).
We will assess this and if you have a complex prescription we may contact your optician.
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?
This will not affect your application for the general role of ‘police officer’. However, there are very strict standards for firearms and Taser officers and you would be excluded from undertaking these roles in the future.
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?
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. We would advise you try to find out as much as possible about your operation and the condition and try to obtain copies of old hospital letters. In some cases, a new cardiology assessment may be required.
The two key questions that we need to address are
if you can safely undertake strenuous physical exercise
what is the long-term prognosis of your heart condition
Any medical condition which increases your risk of health problems later in life, and early ill health retirement, may require exclusion from the ill-health benefits component of the Police Pension Scheme.
I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s. Can I join the police?
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 qualities of the role of police officer.
I have a psoriasis, how would this affect my application to join the police?
Our assessment is made on a case-by-case basis. In most cases you should be able to join. We would expect 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.
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?
Yes, you should advise us of any changes in your health status throughout the recruitment process.
I wear hearing aids, can I still join the police?
In many cases people with hearing impairments will be able to join as long as they can do the role safely. You will undergo a practical work-based scenario (trade test) to assess the impact of your impairment on communication.
The test is based around both verbal and radio communication in a realistic work setting.
Modern digital hearing aids have proven very effective in this respect. Sometimes a newer generation hearing aid may be required.
I understand the BMI must not be higher than 30. If mine is slightly higher would I still be considered?
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 three months).
Losing weight (or rather fat tissue) is under your control and will demonstrate your commitment. With a healthy balanced diet and regular cardio exercise, weight loss can be achieved in several months.
I do a lot of training and weight-lifting so my BMI is naturally much higher - how would this impact my application?
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 will defer pending a review at a later date (usually three months).
2. Mental health conditions
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?
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.
I am taking antidepressants for depression. My depression is really well controlled. Would this affect my application?
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.
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 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 work is like no other and good mental resilience and emotional stability are paramount.
I am on medication for depression and was told during my medical that I was not suitable for the role. I was advised that I should be medication and symptom-free for at least six 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?
You must never stop taking medications merely to join the police. If you must stay on medication this usually signals that the GP has concerns that your mental resilience may not be sufficient to cope with the very high demands of the police officer role. In such cases we may contact the GP to better understand the rationale for prescribing these medications.
However, if you feel much better now (and this was just an isolated episode), your GP may decide to taper medications off gradually. We would usually wait for at least six months after they have been stopped completely because this is the time span when the risk of a relapse is the highest.
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 for a reasonable period and fit to undertake the role.
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?
Each decision is made after a careful consideration of the facts.
You have an obligation to declare all relevant conditions or adverse life effects 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.
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?
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. 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
These may all be indicators that you are at a much higher risk of suffering 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 risk 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.
3. Disabilities (Equality Act)
I have a specific disability and require certain reasonable adjustments at work. What kind of adjustments can the police support?
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. Others may require specific equipment or some structural change to the workplace.
For the police, this means you should still be able to fill an operational role despite the need for certain adjustments.
In other words, you should be able to safely chase after and arrest a suspect and be able to drive a car (special constables may not have to drive) and make critical decisions under pressure.
Reasonable adjustments that could be considered are:
extra time (within reason) to complete written assignments or to take statements
adjustments to workload
a buddy system
adjustments to the shift pattern
Various office-based adjustments should also be possible.
We will assess suitability on a case-by-case basis depending on the disability.
I have epilepsy, but have not had a seizure for two years. The DVLA is happy for me to drive a car. Can I join the police?
As long as your condition is stable, well-controlled and you have been seizure-free for at least 12 months, having epilepsy will not be a factor. However, your condition may require certain restrictions (which technically may also be considered as an adjustment 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 potentially may be able to undertake some limited driving at level 1 if your condition is very well controlled. This is at the discretion of the force medical officer.
For any other kind of vocational driving (level 2 and higher), the expectation would be that the annual risk of you 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.
4. Obtaining sign-off from a GP
My GP refuses to complete the medical questionnaire as I have never attended the surgery since my registration. Can the GP refuse to complete the questionnaire?
The fact you have never had to see your GP is good news.
Countersigning the forms falls outside of the GPs 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 your GP to this page.
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?’
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.
The GP charged me for my application. Can I claim this back from the police?
We cannot reimburse applicants for fees charged by GPs or other third parties. Most GPs will charge a reasonable fee for this type of work.
We advise GPs that excessive fees put people off from applying to Kent Police and deem their charge to be fair and reasonable, reflecting the time spent reviewing medical records and signing the document.
Your GP will appreciate your commitment and do their part to support PC recruits and volunteers. Feel free to direct your GP to this webpage.
I have recently registered with a new GP and they are waiting for my old medical records. Who should complete the medical questionnaire - the new or the old GP?
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.
I am in the Armed Forces and do not have a GP. Who should complete the medical questionnaire?
The doctor working for the Armed Forces will be able to complete the form.
5. All other
The doctor who examined me for my application did not pass me fit. How do I appeal against this decision?
There is no formal appeals procedure for this and the decision is therefore final.
However, you may wish to submit new evidence to support your application, for example; a GP or specialist letter/report. We would look at this information in order to decide if this changes the original decision, provided the new evidence is presented to us no later than three months after the original decision had been made.
I have passed the interview stage and the fitness (bleep) test. Is this a good time to hand in my resignation with my current employer?
You should take advice from the 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 as 'fit'.