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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 July, 2005, 21:17 GMT 22:17 UK
Care on the NHS

Andrew Murphy is a National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guideline Development Member and an Armed Forces veteran who himself suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) In this article he outlines the changes to the current NHS system of care that he hopes the new NICE Guidelines will make.

"I am an ex-Bosnia veteran who, after suffering for six years, was finally diagnosed with PTSD in 1999. My battle back to a normal life has been hard, painful and is ongoing, but worth it to be able to have the self confidence and pride to say I can work, I am worth something and I do matter. This is worth more than money can buy.

After losing my third job, I was deemed unemployable and took nearly three years to get my life back together. During that time my experience of the NHS and support for ex-service personnel was very poor. Because of this I created my own website: I did not want anyone to suffer the way I had, without help or support from the NHS or my community.

To date, many tens of thousands of PTSD sufferers all across the world have visited my website and got support and help for themselves.

It was because of this that I was invited to join the NICE "PTSD Guideline Development Group". This was established to develop new guidelines for the NHS to implement which will help in the diagnosis, treatment and support of other PTSD sufferers. We have produced a document which will help and benefit all PTSD sufferers, especially British military veterans.

Living with PTSD is incredibly difficult. Before you are diagnosed you feel you are going mad. Treatment has been patchy across the UK but these guidelines will finally make care and treatment for PTSD sufferers more balanced and give clear guidance to GPs and other health professionals as to how to treat PTSD. Quality of life is something often forgotten by care providers when treating PTSD, I trust this will no longer be the case as the sufferer will be offered a choice of effective treatments and not only medication.

There are several key areas of the NICE Guidelines which will affect veterans' care:

  • It will now no longer be appropriate for a GP to put a PTSD sufferer on medication alone with no review.
  • If medication is offered and prescribed, then the GP has a responsibility to support the sufferer by regularly reviewing him or her and assessing/reviewing the medication.
  • The preferred pathway is now for the sufferer to be referred to an appropriately trained specialist who is able to deliver trauma focused psychological treatment. This is now the gold standard in treatment and not medication.
  • The patient will be fully equipped to get the treatment they deserve, as the NICE guidelines not only supply the information they need about PTSD, but also what they can expect from their GP.
  • The guidelines should the force the PCT's (Primary Care Trusts) to change funding and treatment provision and provide a more balanced and accessible services (either in Primary or Secondary Care) for all, across the country and not just in isolated areas.
  • The NICE 'Information For the Public' document (IFP) gives clear advice to sufferers and their carers/family as to: Where to get help, What questions to ask, What PTSD is
  • All veterans who have a War Pension will be given priority access to health care provision via Primary & Secondary Care.

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