Help for Heroes is calling on the UK Government to establish a compensation scheme for nuclear test veterans and their families.

Veterans who served as part of the UK nuclear weapon tests operations and their families, have still not been fully compensated for injuries sustained due to radiation exposure. Blood disorders, miscarriages, and infant mortality have all been linked to radiation poisoning, however only certain ailments are covered in the War Pensions Scheme, and it goes little way to compensating fully for the illness and injuries nuclear veterans and families have and are still suffering from.

Why justice is needed

More than 20,000 UK military personnel served as part of UK nuclear weapon tests between 1952 and 1967 in Australia, Fiji, and other Pacific islands, of which an estimated 1,500 are still alive.

Evidence suggests that the exposure to radiation during the test operations caused a unique and devastating set of injuries and illnesses to not only these veterans themselves, but also to their children.

Nuclear test veterans have higher rates of cancers and blood disorders. Some studies have suggested that radiation is linked to higher rates of miscarriage, infant mortality, and birth defects among the children and grandchildren ‘of these veterans. One study suggests children of these veterans were 10 times more likely to be born with birth defects, and five times more likely to die as infants.

The extent and severity of harm suffered by these veterans and their families goes beyond that which can be adequately addressed through War Pensions. We advocate for a scheme to be established that provides lump-sum financial compensation to living nuclear test veterans, and to family members who can demonstrate that their injuries were caused because of their parent’s service. Such schemes already exist in the United States, Canada and France.

What we’re doing

  •  In 2023, we supported the campaign by these veterans and the Daily Mirror to bring a legal challenge the MOD’s refusal to publish medical records relating to these tests.
  • In 2023, we included this ask as one of our top priorities for veterans at the next General Election.
  • We have also met with MPs and officials from numerous political parties in support of this policy.
  • We have supported the campaign for the introduction of the service medal for Nuclear Test Veterans. In November 2023, this was achieved. Eligible veterans and their next of kin can still apply for a medal.
  • We believe the next logical step is to now fully compensate these veterans and their families for illnesses caused by radiation exposure during service.

The campaign so far

If you want more information on this campaign, please contact our Senior Public Affairs and Policy Manager Ted Arnold at