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Occupational health screening during Gurkha Central Selection: a retrospective cohort study


Objective The selection process to the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkhas is rigorous, demanding and competitive. The ethos of recruitment to the Gurkhas is grounded in an overarching tenant: that selection is free, fair and transparent. The aim of this study was to retrospectively review reasons for potential recruits (PRs) to be deemed medically unsuitable or deferred suitability on medical grounds for selection to the Brigade of Gurkhas.

Methods A retrospective review was conducted by extracted data from published post-exercise reports for the past four years to ascertain numbers of PRs deemed medically fit, medically unsuitable or deferred suitability on medical grounds. The International Classification of Disease version 11 (ICD-11) codes were retrospectively assigned to code medical reasons for non-progression. Rates of medical non-progression were compared by year.

Results A total of 3154 PRs were analysed between 2018 and 2021. There was no significant difference between PRs deemed medically fit and those deemed medically suitable or deferred on medical grounds over the study period (p=0.351). There was a significant difference in the ratio of PRs deferred on medical grounds and those deemed medically unsuitable over the study period (p<0.05).

Conclusion Selection to the Gurkhas is extremely competitive. These data demonstrate that, overall, reasons for medical deferral or unsuitability have remained constant despite the impact of a global pandemic. These data reinforce the central tenant of Gurkha selection; that it continues to be free, fair, and transparent.

  • audit
  • occupational & industrial medicine
  • audit
  • quality in health care
  • sports medicine

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.

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