Stephen Michael Hibbert v Ministry of Defence [2008] EWHC 1526 (QB)

During the course of varying postings in the army, the Claimant witnessed horrific sights and was frequently exposed to mortal danger. Upon returning from Bosnia he experienced psychological problems and when subsequently posted in Northern Ireland, suffered a nervous breakdown. He was referred to a psychiatrist (B) on the basis that he may have suffered PTSD. In B ‘s opinion, the Claimant was not suffering from PTSD and no further treatment was necessary. The Claimant went absent without leave and crashed his car. Again, when examined, B concluded there were no symptoms of PTSD. Some years later, he was admitted to hospital and diagnosed as suffering from resistant PTSD. The Claimant brought a claim against the MoD on the basis that B had been negligent in not properly diagnosing and treating the PTSD with the consequence that the condition had become entrenched and was resistant to treatment.

Held: B was an experienced specialist in military PTSD. He had considered the Claimant’s symptoms and whether they satisfied the relevant medical criteria. There was nothing in the medical records to undermine his conclusions. The Claimant was suffering symptoms that could be described as suggestive of PTSD at a sub-clinical level but was not at the relevant time suffering from the condition. B had not been negligent and his response to the Claimant’s condition had been appropriate and acceptable.