A survey carried out on behalf of leading charity Combat Stress has revealed that 49 per cent of GPs are familiar with guidelines on PTSD from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on PTSD. Only 42 per cent were familiar with the guidelines. The Daily Telegraph reports that:
Half of doctors are unaware of official guidelines on how to diagnose mental health trauma because of battle scars from the frontline, a survey has found.
The news will lead to fears that thousands of veterans are not being diagnosed early enough to prevent the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A survey carried out by independent pollster ComRes found that just 42 per cent of GPs are familiar with guidelines on PTSD from National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on PTSD.
Forty-nine per cent said they were not familiar with them at all. ComRes, which was commissioned by veterans mental health charity Combat Stress, surveyed 1,006 GPs across the UK in July 2011.
The guidelines set out clinical best practice on how medical professional should manage and deal with PTSD sufferers, as well offering ways of treating the mental illness.
Combat Stress, the veterans’ mental health charity which is raising money through its 'Enemy Within' appeal to deal with the problem, said its figures showed that too few doctors were diagnosing PTSD among veterans.
It found that over the past 12 months just 5 per cent of the 1,426 veterans it helped were referred to it by GPs.
Failing to diagnose PTSD early, and take medical action, can lead to the onset of much more serious problems, such as alcoholism and depression.
Walter Busuttil, Combat Stress's medical services director, said: “Our clinical audits tell us that 80 per cent of veterans who come to Combat Stress for clinical treatment have first tried to get help from either their GP or other specialist services, but have not received the support and treatment that they needed.
“This has led to around half the veterans who come to Combat Stress each year essentially self-referring.”
Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, admitted that “inequalities persist surrounding the care of military personnel when they return to the UK”, adding that the college has produced guidance “to help GPs better understand veterans’ particular needs”.
She added: “Veterans pose a unique challenge for GPs, but the role the generalist can play in identifying post traumatic stress disorder, or indeed any other mental health problems that may manifest as a result of the often difficult and dangerous situations that veterans work in around the world, is invaluable.”
More than 180,000 British troops have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.
... Last year, Combat Stress launched its “Enemy Within” appeal, supported by The Daily Telegraph, to raise funds for the network of psychiatric nurses to treat veterans.
To contribute to Combat Stress's Enemy Within appeal, send a cheque payable to "Combat Stress" to the charity at Tyrwhitt House, Oaklawn Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 0BX.
Or go to www.combatstress.org.uk/tele to donate online.
- Full story, by Christopher Hope Whitehall Editor, The Daily Telegraph
- NICE clinical guideli on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Defence Select Committee Inquiry into Medical Care for the Armed Forces - Written evidence from the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF)
- Combat stress: 44 calls every week to Government helpline to discuss mental health problems