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August 24, 2010

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MoD failed to monitor soldier’s PTSD symptoms

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has agreed to pay part of a six-figure sum to a former bomb-disposal expert suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). €ᄄ €ᄄ

The soldier, who does not wish to be named for security reasons, joined the Army in 1984 and served in the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, Bosnia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. He carried out bomb-disposal duties and dealt with the aftermath of terrorist incidents.

Having undergone psychometric testing in 1998 and 1999, he was cleared by a senior army psychiatrist for operations, but was asked to appear in a training video about PTSD and its symptoms.

In June 2004, the claimant was seen by a civilian consultant psychiatrist, who formally diagnosed him with PTSD and recommended he undergo cognitive behavioural therapy.

But just two weeks later, and before he was able to commence treatment, the claimant was involved in a car accident, which led to his condition deteriorating to such an extent that he was medically discharged from the Army and was unable to return to work.€ᄄ€ᄄThe MoD argued that the soldier had knowledge of his PTSD from the tests in 1998-1999 and that the three-year limitation period for a claim to be made had therefore expired.€ᄄ

But it was counter-argued that because he was only formally diagnosed in 2004 and told that he should have received treatment before then, the time to bring a claim should be from this date onwards. €ᄄ €ᄄMedical evidence showed that he would not have suffered as serious a deterioration in his condition had he been monitored and treated when initial tests were done in the late 90s, and that the MoD’s failure to formally diagnose, and thereafter monitor and treat, the condition made him more vulnerable to future stressful events.€ᄄ

The claimant’s solicitor, Claire Roantree, from Colemans-ctts, said: “The case highlights the potential liability of military psychiatrists and officers when signs of PTSD appear, and their joint responsibility in ensuring that Army personnel are properly monitored and treated.”  €ᄄ €ᄄShe continued: “PTSD is, unfortunately, still a taboo subject in the Army, and I hope that this case serves to remind the MoD that they have a continuing duty of supervision and monitoring.”

The settlement pay-out will be split between the MoD and the insurer covering the car accident. Describing his ordeal, the former soldier said: “I feel that treatment, or at least monitoring, may have prevented my eventual breakdown and I would have remained a valuable asset to the military, especially in the present climate of operations.

“I can only hope that others in my situation, ex and still serving, who seek help or are suffering from PTSD, receive the treatment they need and deserve to rehabilitate or assist them in their lives – not only for their sake but also their loved ones.”

A MoD spokesperson said: “When compensation claims are received they are considered on the basis of whether or not the MoD has a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is a proven legal liability, compensation is paid.”

He added that the negotiated settlement reached was “agreed to the satisfaction of all concerned”.

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