Update from the NHS - London Bombings Screening Team
Why has the service now closed?
We know from previous major incidents that most people who may benefit from assistance will come forward soon after the incident. The project was funded to run for 2 years to incorporate the needs of people who find it difficult to access services or develop symptoms at a later date. The literature from similar incidents indicates that there would be less need for the service after this time. This has been born out as in the first six months of the project the screening team were receiving on average of over sixty referrals per month. However by the end of the project in September 2007 the rate of referrals had dropped to an average of one per month. It is likely that this rate will continue to reduce and less people affected by the London bombings will require this type of assistance.
What if I need help?
If you were affected by the London bombings and feel that you need help you should contact your GP who can refer you to your local mental health service. If you are suffering from PTSD and do not have access to trauma focused therapists in your local area then it may be possible for your GP to refer you to a trauma service, providing your local health care provider agrees to fund this.
Due to high demand most mental health services have waiting lists and are unable to offer treatment immediately. The trauma centres who were involved in the NHS bombings response may be able to offer treatment to anyone suffering from PTSD as a result of the bombings more quickly providing they receive funding from local heath care providers.
In the future….
Many people are concerned that there may be future major incidents that affect the public. It is normal for most people to experience an increase in anxiety and fear if there are further incidents. However, these feelings usually reduce over time. If you have received psychological help after 7/7 try to recall and utilise all the skills you learnt in therapy to understand your fear & manage your anxiety. There are websites which have information about coping with trauma that can be helpful such as www.ISTSS.com and www.uktrauma.org.uk.
The 7 July Assistance Centre is available for anyone who has been affected by the London bombings and other recent major disasters abroad. The helpline can assist with information, advice and emotional support, there’s also individual counselling, complementary therapies and a regular newsletter. It may be useful to visit their website 7julyassistance.org.uk or call .
If these difficulties do not get better over time then you may need to visit your GP who can assess your needs and refer you for more help if needed. It may be that you need a little extra support e.g. from a GP counsellor or a friend who can help you to do things that are helpful to reduce your distress.
Background to the NHS response
The NHS response to the London bombings developed a centralised screening and treatment programme. Over two years, over 900 people affected by the bombings were referred for screening, nearly 400 detailed diagnostic interviews were carried out, and three hundred people were referred for psychological treatment. The majority of these people met criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The screening team also offered support, advice and monitoring to those who did not require referring for treatment. Most of the treatment was provided in specialist trauma clinics across London.
An independent formal evaluation of the project is currently underway and its findings will be published in 2008.