Saturday, 28 February 2009

Johnson Beharry VC with Shocking Indictment of Mental Health Care for Veterans

The 29 year old Grenadian was awarded Britain's highest award the VC.

From the BBC. Seeing as our government is keen to commit troops to military operations it is entirely reasonable to expect that our society takes care of them upon their return. Furthermore those suffering from the after effects of the conflict should receive the best help and treatment. However according to Beharry the support available from agencies such as the NHS is poor. Certainly more needs to be done, is it too much to ask that say the standard of care available is better than or equal to the effort our welfare state goes to support people such as Abu Qatada. This is a serious issue as witnessed with the issues affecting veterans of the Falklands conflict of 1982. Full text of BBC article below:

Veteran mental care 'a disgrace'

L/Cpl Beharry also spoke about his own mental health Britain's highest-decorated serving soldier has criticised the government for failing to help ex-servicemen and women suffering mental health problems. Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross, said it was "disgraceful" that some veterans struggled to get treatment.

He told the BBC the Army provided "first-class" treatment but ex-soldiers were forced to wait on the NHS. The MoD said a "huge amount of work" was being done on mental illness.
L/Cpl Beharry, who was given the VC for twice leading comrades to safety during attacks in Iraq, called on the government to give more help to his comrades suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, depression and mental breakdowns. The 29-year-old told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he has to live with constant pain, nightmares, mood swings and unexplained rages, five years after receiving a serious head wound. Going forward, the demand on our services is going to be ever-increasing Robert Marsh, Combat Stress Yet he had to wait three hours in hospital to see an NHS doctor about his trauma.
"A lot of soldiers get discharged from the Army and have to be on the NHS for treatment.
"Having experienced it as a serving soldier, what it's like being on the NHS, I feel it's ridiculous because these ex-servicemen and women would not get that treatment they really need. What's going to happen to them?"
Mental symptoms can take a long time to surface and they are harder to deal with in civilian life, he said.

"[In the Army], we have places to go and get the help at the moment but my worry is that ex-servicemen and women, if something like that happens to them and they have to wait two to four hours on the NHS."
Earlier, in an interview with the Independent, he said it was "disgraceful" that those who had served their country in Iraq and Afghanistan were forced to wait for NHS treatment and charities had been forced to step in where ministers had failed.
"You spend six months on the battlefield and you have to defend yourself every day and then you come back to normal life and go to Tesco and someone runs into your trolley.
"You have to stop and think - it is only a trolley, you are not on the battlefield."

General Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the British Army, said: "Ex-servicemen and women are cared for by the NHS.
"They should have a priority. Government policy is that they have priority within the NHS and I should hope that the NHS managers remind themselves of that."
As well as NHS responsibility, there was vital work being done by charities and the voluntary sector, he said.
'Not complacent'
Defence Minister Kevan Jones said: "We recognise mental illnesses as serious and disabling conditions but also ones that can be treated.
"Our dedicated psychiatric teams based in theatre provide the very best diagnosis and treatment of psychological illnesses both during and after deployments."
He insisted the government was "not complacent" and had awarded a new contract to the NHS for the provision of in-patient mental health services.
"In addition we have recently introduced mental health pilots across the UK; commissioned research into mental health conditions; and expanded our medical assessment programme at St Thomas' Hospital to include assessment of veterans with operational service from 1982," he added.
Figures published by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in November showed nearly 4,000 new cases of mental health disorder were diagnosed among armed services personnel in 2007.
We need to understand that our duty of care lasts a lifetime
Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox
They also showed personnel sent to Afghanistan or Iraq were more likely to suffer post traumatic stress disorder.
Robert Marsh of Combat Stress, a mental health charity for ex-servicemen, said the number of cases was bound to increase in the next few years.
"I think to be fair we work in partnership with the MoD as much as we can. Last year they gave us round about £4m in respect of war pensioners that we are treating.
"But I think that going forward, the demand on our services is going to be ever-increasing and there is going to be a funding challenge and perhaps we need to question where we are getting our money from."
Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said there was "a bow wave of mental health problems building up".
"We need to understand that our duty of care lasts a lifetime," he said, "And that in areas such as mental health we need to find ways of picking up problems which may take years to manifest themselves."
Lib Dem defence spokesman Nick Harvey added: "The government is slowly waking up to the problem, but this testimony shows how far they have to go before we get close to dealing with this very serious issue."

No comments: