GP surgeries 'failing troops with PTSD' as only one in 20 are 'veteran friendly'



Only one in 20 GP surgeries in England are “veteran friendly”, the Government admits.  Just 375 of the 7,000 practices have staff trained to deal with veterans ­issues such as combat related post -traumatic stress disorder.  The figures are revealed in the Armed Forces Covenant annual report, out last month.  In November, Ash Nickless, ex-Royal Marine and former bodyguard of Spice Girl Mel B, struggling with mental health issues was turned away from two GP surgeries while seeking help.  Two days later he was found dead.   – most served in war zones and were diagnosed with PTSD or other mental health issue.  To be veteran friendly GP practices must ensure all troops’ status is on medical records and have a trained professional who makes sure the practice complies with the Armed Forces Covenant.  Many GPs are unaware of veteran-friendly accreditation.  One doctor said: “I’m not sure we’d advertise we are veteran friendly, veterans often come with many issues such as mental health problems and alcoholism.  “We are hard pressed enough in dealing with the patients we have.  “If we took on more complex patients we would begin to struggle very badly.  “Sadly the Armed Forces Covenant doesn’t take the problems GPs face in this country into account.”  Veterans’ campaigner Trevor Coult, who won the Military Cross in Iraq, said: “Most veterans I deal with have no idea that there are ­veteran-friendly GPs – in many cases veterans are never even asked about their military services unless their mental health issues are linked to combat-related PTSD.”  The Royal College of General Practitioners said that up to 90 GP surgeries join the scheme every month.  Its honorary secretary Dr Jonathan Leach said: “The college is working hard to raise awareness of the scheme and encourage more GP practices to sign up, particularly where we know that high numbers of patients who are veterans.” If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 on 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org

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