Ministry of Defence hit by compensation bill for Trench FootSeptember 1, 2010
It might be thought that Trench Foot was a disease suffered only by soldiers who fought in the First World War, but today the MoD is facing a £5 million compensation bill from soldiers who claim to be enduring an illness very much like it. Around 150 soldiers have submitted claims for Non Freezing Cold Injury, or NFCI, which can cause chronic pain and a lifelong sensitivity to the cold.
It would appear that those soldiers from the warmer Commonwealth countries are most susceptible to the disease, with Dr Howard Oakley, who is head of survival and thermal medicine at the Institute of Naval Medicine in Gosport, Hampshire, reporting that African and Afro-Caribbean soldiers were 30 times more likely to report the condition. An ex-soldier from Nigeria described how he was so badly affected by NFCI that his feet are continually sore and his fingernails are always dropping off.
Lawyers arguing for the suffering soldiers claim that NFCI could have easily been avoided if the men had been given the correct equipment (such as properly insulated boots), training and supervision when out on army exercises or missions. Some soldiers said that when they complained to their superior officers about the condition, their injuries were not believed to be real and they were simply told to “soldier on”.
The MoD has released a statement saying that they are investigating the 150 claims already made and will pay compensation to those whom they believe to have a valid case. While some soldiers may receive up to £150,000, it is estimated that most should expect payments of around £30,000 to £40,000.