Having visited my Medical Centre I was refused the medical as the practice is not contracted to do any medicals other than standard one such as PULHEEMS and discharge medicals - a contract with a local civilian practice.
They told me that I would either have to find another military medical practice that would be willing to do it or pay for it to be done at a civilian practice. I don't believe the latter is possible as a civilian practice would not have access to my medical records and I believe I need a different type of medical for services recreational diving under the guidance/direction given by the Surgeon General.
I have since transferred from that medical centre to the Corsham medical centre which supports DCSA. However, they too are saying that they are not able to do diving medicals and are suggesting that I contact the Medical Centre at RAF Lyneham. They are saying that in order to facilitate a dive medical the doctor, military or civilian, must have completed the Dive Medical Officers' Course (not the exact name, but no doubt you are aware of the course being talked about).
Having contacted Lyneham they say that Corsham are wrong and that only the initial medical where such things as a Chest X-ray are necessary are completed by them, but not because they have the correctly qualified doctor, but because they have the relevant X-ray facilities. They have told me to go back to Corsham and explain to them that Corsham can do routine yearly dive medicals. Currently Corsham and Lyneham are arguing amongst themselves and will notify me of their agreed decision!
In the meantime, I have a dive course at JSSADC on 22 Apr and my Dive Medical is currently out of date! Having briefly discussed the regulations for dive medicals some time ago last year with an Army Doctor who is also a SADS, I am under the impression that the Medical Officers' Course being referred to is a nice to have, greatly encouraged, but not essential to complete a dive medical.
Please could you give me Chapter and Verse and send me the relevant military medical directives so that I can confront these various Medical Centres with fact rather than personal opinion!
A: I am slightly cautious in answering this as the whole issue of services diving medicals for sports/recreational diving while “on duty” is currently under review and I would hope a statement clarifying matters should be out in the next month or so (The Joint Services Sub-Aqua Policy Advisory Committee next sits on 04 Apr 06).
As you will have clearly realised it’s all a bit of a mess, a combination of the ACOP for Recreational Diving Projects (produced by the HSE) and the ongoing debate about on duty status of services divers conducting sub aqua, shortages of Unit MO’s qualified to conduct diving medicals and ongoing concerns about non-qualified MO’s carrying out diving medicals has all added to the confusion. The Superintendent of Diving (SoD) is well aware of all these issues and is attempting to resolve them. I am only too aware that this whole saga has dragged on for several years now but let’s hope that the meeting on 04 Apr identifies a way ahead.
Currently “The Surgeon General’s Medical Standards for Sports Divers 23/98 dated 20 Oct 98” is the overarching policy document for diving medicals for those of us in the Services conducting sports/recreational diving while “on duty”. This is also reflected in JS Regs. If you do not have a copy I would recommend getting hold of one. I will investigate placing one on the ASADA web for those interested.
As you have noted, although the Services Diving Medical and the HSE Medical are similar they are not the same and there is currently no waiver for the later to be accepted in lieu of a Services Diving Medical. The Surgeon General’s Letter does state that wherever possible those conducting the medical should have successfully completed, and be in date, the Standard Underwater Medicine Course at INM. However, it does go on to say that in the absence of a MO so qualified, any registered medical practitioner may perform the examination providing they apply Chapter 7 of BR 1750A or have a copy of the Surgeon General’s Policy Letter (SGPL) referred to above. There were discussions that the HSE medical would be accepted in lieu of a Services Diving Medical but I have seen nothing official OK’ing this although a number of SADS who have left the services but are still active have taken this route.
The only practical advice I can give in the mean time is to get a copy of SGPL and wave it under the nose of your Unit MO. If that does not work start phoning Naval Bases who have more qualified MO’s than the Army. I had to do this 2 years when my unit MO, who had done the course but was not in date, refused to conduct the medical (despite my showing him SGPL) as he said he would be the one in court if he OK’d me to dive and I subsequently had a medical problem while diving.
That’s chapter and verse which addresses your initial request but I am afraid it is not a complete answer. My advice is to try your unit MO (again), if that fails phone a Naval Base and as a fall back see if the JSSADC will accept an HSE medical (which I am afraid you will have to pay for). I hope this helps and will update my answer if anything comes out of the 04 April meeting. Good luck and let me know how you get on.
Guy, ASADA Chairman
Following April 06’s Joint Services Sub-Aqua Policy Advisory Committee (JSSADPC) Meeting, on 04 April 06, I thought I should update my earlier reply.
It looks likely that The Superintendent of Diving (SoD) will agree to a reasonable compromise on “Diving Medicals” and introduce steps that will make it easier to obtain medicals for Army/Services divers. A brief outline of the proposed compromise is as follows:
How often will you need a medical? Service’s recreational divers will require a full diving medical in line with the current periodicity. That is on starting diving and then every 5 years for those up to 40 years of age, every 3 years between 40 and 50 and annually for those over 50. The compromise is that Services divers will need a fit to dive certificate signed by a unit MO annually. This will be a relatively easy process and the onus is on the diver to say if there has been any change to his fitness if it would effect his diving status rather than undergoing a full blown medical.
Who can conduct the medical? The full diving medical should be carried out by an Institute of Naval Medicine (INM) trained doctor (although it could still be carried out by unit MO who is not INM trained in extremis). In order to make these medicals more available all Army Doctors attending medical training will attend a 1 day course at INM. This will qualify them to conduct the medicals and obviously sign the annual certification. In addition MO’s who have already completed training and not done the INM course will be encouraged to attend. This has only been made possible by the HSE agreeing to recognise INM qualifications as an alternative to the HSE’s.
Once final agreement between HSE and SoD has been reached JS Regs will be amended. All this will take time to set up but will ensure that it is no longer a huge nausea trying to get a diving medical. In the mean time “The Surgeon General’s Medical Standards for Sports Divers 23/98 dated 20 Oct 98” remains the overarching policy document for diving medicals for those of us in the Services conducting sports/recreational diving while “on duty”. If you do not have a copy I would recommend getting hold of one.
Guy, ASADA Chairman
Q: Could anyone out there let me know the JSSADA stand point on the addition of regulations allowing 12 year olds to train within the BSAC (restrictions applying)
How does this effect the inclusion of 12 year olds within service clubs? (our club used to allow the training of under 18`s only with a DIVING parent in attendance)
Will this mean that Cadets will now be allowed to join expeditions (within the restrictions) or indeed have their own expeditions?
What will be the medical standpoint? Will cadets require a full military diving medical? As dependants will military medical centres give "fit to dive certificates" to 12 year olds? As civilian members will civilian doctors give 12 year olds a "fit to dive" (obviously non of this required by our civilian counterparts)
Any answers to questions, comments or general chat on the subject as always warmly welcomed.
Can of worms anyone!!!
A: Obviously the Army Sub-Aqua Diving Associations and the other single service associations support whole heartedly the initiatives taken by the BSAC as the National Governing Body.
As such there should be no difficulty with children 12 years old and above joining ASADA Registered Clubs. There are however limits on how many non-services personnel can be in a club and it may be that this quota has to be reviewed.
The question of medicals poses a number of challenges. As I am sure you will be aware the Joint Services are still in negotiations with the HSE on the future diving medical requirements for services personnel conducting diving in Services time. The HSE considers under these circumstances to be on duty and as such believes that services personnel should have an annual HSE diving medical. The Navy Superintendent of Diving does not fully support this stance and discussions with the HSE are still ongoing. Until this has been resolved it would be impossible to consider how 12 year olds are effected. Rest assured that the Joint Services are already consider the implications though.
I doubt that Cadets will be able to join services expeditions. It is already necessary to provide a good reason why a civilian should take the place of a services member on an exped. Usual reasons are because they are a SADS or an Instructor. There is no way a 12 year old to fit these requirements. If cadets wish to mount their own expeditions I suspect that would be fine but I cannot envisage G3 PATS in Divisions supporting with cash so would question why they would wish to call it an exped. Without being familiar with the Cadets it may be that there is funding available from Army, Navy or Sea Cadet organisations to support such initiatives. S of D will have to consider whether these expeditions need to fall under JOint Services rules or whether they can do their own thing. If a Cadet unit has sufficient Instructors or Supervisors within a Cadet Unit to start its own Club and then wishes to join ASADA (or one of the other Associations) we will have to give the matter some further thought.
I will circulate my thought amongst the other Services Chairman for Sub-Aqua and SoD for their thoughts. I think demand will drive the need to reach a final decision on the subject though. Grateful for you questions and happy to keep this discussion going.
Guy, ASADA Chairman
A: RN CCF provides diving through various schemes or expeditions for cadets. I understand it to be an annual "camp" at Portsmouth diving at Horsea daily and an annual exped to Malta. The Chairman of special branch 651 may be able to offer more. By all accounts it is damn hard work for the adults/instructors as the duty of care requires constant supervision.
I don't know about medicals.
I suggest that taking young people on a Services exped would necessarily limit the aim of the exped and so reduce its value under JSAT, but this is a subjective opinion, not based on known fact.
What would be required is that anyone involved with teaching youngsters in a club would need to be CRB checked for any evidence of convictions for child abuse or sexual assault. Parents would wish to see that anyone, teaching or in any way involved, has been checked. These checks can be carried out by HQ BSAC (Mike Clack). I've been checked out in case I have to be involved with kids as an area coach. It costs nothing I believe, but does take some time (several months). Word of warning: this check is for evidence, not intent and there are some nasty bits of work around.
But I suspect that there may already be youngsters in Service branches. For example, if one or both parents belong to a club/branch, it may be that a child goes along for the weekend club trip etc. I am aware that some clubs have mixed Mil/Civ membership, so there is no reason why youngsters should not be junior members and since they will be diving under JSSADR as well as the other limitations placed on them by BSAC, they will be in a very safe, controlled environment - provided the question of medicals has been tackled and provided that at least the minimal insurance requirements are in place.
I would be interested to hear what Chairman RNRMSAA and SofD have to say in due course.
John, ASADA Vice Chairman
Q: Does anyone have an example of a CO's Adventurous Training Policy that I could have a gander at? It looks likely that I'm going to have to produce one in the near future, so would appreciate getting a heads up on what is needed.
Q: Are there any plans for more information regarding Army sub aqua diving. the AT link is a good start, but trying to find things out about ASADA is very difficult for those who are not lucky enough to be in a garrison with a club (possibly the vast majority of Army divers sit in this category). Some of the other AT activities websites are very good, and I feel that diving could do a bit more to promote itself to the benefit of everyone.