Is Gulf War Syndrome a case of medical negligence?

Gulf War Syndrome continues to affect hundreds of British ex-servicemen and yet two decades on they have still not received any personal injury compensation.

Problems arose for servicemen during Operation Desert Storm. Pre-war preparations included a series of vaccinations to protect service personnel against the possibility that Saddam Hussein’s forces attacked using chemical or biological weapons.

However Kerry Fuller, a senior aircraftman, was taken to hospital within a week of receiving the jabs, suffering chronic fatigue. He was returned to active service but the problem recurred and he was hospitalised again within 12 months of returning from the Gulf. He suffered a stroke at the age of 40 and now has a mild stammer.

The Ministry of Defence does not want to admit that Gulf War Syndrome exists because it would leave them open to personal injury claims for medical negligence compensation, said Shaun Rusling of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association.

He would like the government to apologise to those affected and provide them with proper care and pensions. Some veterans cannot even get medical support unless they pay for it out of their own pockets, whilst others have simply given up trying to get treatment.

Official data shows that more than 1,500 ex-service people have claimed war pensions because of illnesses contracted in the Gulf War. However, it is thought that the number is much higher. But the big problem remains that nobody knows why this happened. There have been various theories put forward but nothing to prove that the illnesses were specific to troops serving in Operation Desert Storm.

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