Case Study: Former Servicewoman awarded £250,000 in Medical Negligence Claim Against Army

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Jonathan Cloudsdale

Senior Associate Solicitor, Military Claims

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We helped a woman who was medically discharged from the Army to claim compensation for medical negligence, after a surgeon’s medical recommendation had been ignored many years earlier.

Our client, Gemma, joined the Army in 1999, where she experienced pain in her shins soon after enlisting. These symptoms then became worse when she was exercising in all work-related duties, like marching and running in military boots. Though Gemma wore custom-made insoles, and changed her activities the best she could, the symptoms continued to progressively worsen.

By 2002, Gemma was referred by her Army Medical Officer to a consultant orthopaedic, along with a sports injury surgeon. On diagnosis, they found that she was suffering with exertional compartment syndrome, and she was recommended further tests and a surgical operation.

Exertional Compartment Syndrome is an exercised-induced muscle and nerve condition, that often forms in the lower limbs of the body. It can cause pain or swelling, though sometimes disability can result from this.

a medical professional with crossed arms

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To find out more about how we can help with a medical negligence claim against the army, get in touch with our military claims team.

Symptoms of Exertional Compartment Syndrome:

  • Aching and cramping in the affected limb
  • Burning sensation in the affected limb
  • A tight feeling in the affected limb
  • Numbness / Pins and needles pain
  • Weakness of the affected limb
  • Occasionally, swelling in the limb

Gemma wasn’t told that she would require surgery, and the Army took no steps to make this happen. By that, it meant that no funding options were offered, and Gemma was then unable to carry out the tests that she was told she would need. She continued with severe pain, until she raised the issues with the Army again; and was further referred to an Army consultant orthopaedic surgeon.

Unfortunately for Gemma, the surgeon wasn’t convinced that she was suffering from exertional compartment syndrome – and she had to continue with the pain and no surgery referrals or appropriate testing.

a man in army uniform, cross-armed, holding a stethoscope

Worsening Condition Ends Her Career

Years passed, and Gemma’s condition worsened, whilst she underwent various scans, tests and treatments; along with physiotherapy and acupuncture to relieve the pain.

Though both physiotherapy and acupuncture help to restore movement and function for people with an injury, there are still surgical needs required for people like Gemma.

Nevertheless, her mobility got worse and she started suffering with chronic pain, which meant she couldn’t run and could only drive for short distances.

The severe pain meant that Gemma was prescribed medication that had awful side effects like, depression, so Gemma’s mental state was getting worse, along with her mobility.

Eventually, she was assessed by a medical board in 2013, which recorded that she was suffering from a bilateral anterior compartment syndrome

This is the term used when a symptom or injury covers both sides of the body, towards the front, which in Gemma’s case, was her shins. The increased pressure in the shins lead to severe pain.

All of this meant that Gemma was then medically discharged from the Army.

How Simpson Millar Helped

Our expert Medical Negligence Solicitors offered a free case assessment when she approached us. She believed that if the recommendations made by the surgeon back in 2002 had been actioned, her condition could have been properly diagnosed and treated before getting any worse.

If it was treated in a timely manner, the ongoing chronic lower limb pain could have been prevented, and she would then have never been medically discharged from the army. Because of this, we took Gemma’s case on a No Win, No Fee Basis, as we believed she had a strong case for compensation.

We saw that it wasn’t just the pain that Gemma incurred, but also the loss of her livelihood, as she could have served in the Army for many more years – had the negligence not happened. Promotion opportunities, and personal growth in her role could have happened, which unfortunately she lost out on significantly due to the negligence.

Gemma was deeply frustrated and disappointed to have lost that career, along with the lifestyle that came with it. She’d enjoyed the challenging and physical working environment, the teamwork and the camaraderie it offered, as well as the chance to serve her country.

Though we saw that the case had great grounds for success, it came with lots of challenges. The Army continued to dispute that Gemma was suffering from compartment syndrome in the first place, and denied that the surgeon’s recommendations for further tests and surgery should have been acted upon.

This meant the only way to settle the claim would be to proceed to  Court.

What was the outcome for our client?

Despite the Army denying fault, we continued to push for a settlement and a compensation package was agreed at a Joint Settlement Meeting before the case went to Court.

Gemma was awarded £250,000 in compensation, an amount that reflected the wide-ranging effects of the negligence on her life.

For example, she had missed out on earning opportunities, along with a loss in a number of service benefits; that she had whilst serving.

The settlement also meant she could now access the support she needs in future, including a pain management programme that could help to ease her symptoms and make a big difference to her quality of life.

Gemma was very happy with the outcome after what she described as a “very long hard battle” and has since moved on with her life in many positive ways. From opening her own business, to progressing in a degree at the Open University, Gemma has managed to find a new work life. We wish her all the best for the future!

What did Emma say about her experience?

"The legal team at Simpson Millar are truly amazing. My Solicitor guided me through the whole process and was by my side every step of the way. They supported me where no one else would.

I tried contacting so many law firms with no joy, I genuinely was on the verge of giving up when they took my case. My family and I cannot thank them enough."

The MOD have a duty to take reasonable steps to make sure that all Armed Forces personnel are safe whilst in training, and on operational duties. This includes providing medical treatment and diagnosis. Our Personal Injury Lawyers specialise in all kinds of military accident and injury claims.  Please get in touch by calling us on 0808 239 0024, for a free consultation to discuss your potential claim for compensation.

Whether you are still serving in the British Armed Forces or are a veteran, you could make a claim for compensation if you have been injured in the course of your military career like Gemma was. Reach out to out friendly, approachable team to discuss your options.


British Army. (Publication date not specified). "Army Medical Services." Available at:

Mayo Clinic. (Publication date not specified). "Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome." Available at:

NHS. (Publication date not specified). "Physiotherapy." Available at:

NHS. (Publication date not specified). "Acupuncture." Available at:

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). (January 16 2023). "Chronic Pain." Available at:

NHS. (Publication date not specified). "Depression in Adults." Available at: (Publication date not specified). "Anterior Compartment Syndrome." Available at:

NCBI. (2023). "Compartment Syndrome." Available at:

NHS. (Publication date not specified). "Compartment Syndrome." Available at:

UK Government. (Publication date not specified). "Ministry of Defence." Available at:

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