This year in front of his pla­toon

The People - - NEWS FEATURES -

same – the ser­vice ethos is miss­ing. Dur­ing the Iraq and Afghan cam­paigns ex­ten­sive use was made of re­servists and NHS vol­un­teers, but that is only pa­per­ing over the cracks in reg­u­lar re­cruit­ing. Th­ese gaps need to be ad­dressed now or other­wise it will not be lack of sol­diers and equip­ment that con­strain a fu­ture oper­a­tional de­ploy­ment but the lack of med­i­cal care.”

For­mer head of the Armed Forces Lord Richards said: “Th­ese fig­ures are extremely wor­ry­ing. Faith in our medics is at the heart of high com­bat morale and mil­i­tary ef­fec­tive­ness.

“This sit­u­a­tion must be put right quickly and com­pre­hen­sively.”

Colonel Glynn Evans, chair­man of the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion’s Armed Forces Com­mit­tee, said: “It is extremely con­cern­ing.

Heal­ing

“Our ser­vice­men and women are all taught to recog­nise signs of men­tal ill-health in them­selves and oth­ers and to raise it.

“But there’s no point in them rais­ing it if we can’t de­liver the care they need. Key to that are men­tal health work­ers, psy­chi­a­trists and psy­chol­o­gists.

“In PTSD the role of psy­chol­o­gists

in the long-term treat­ment and heal­ing is in­valu­able. Psy­chi­a­trists can pre­scribe drugs. But non-drug treat­ment is prob­a­bly the most ben­e­fi­cial.”

The Sun­day Peo­ple’s Save Our Sol­diers cam­paign is call­ing for a rad­i­cal shake-up over the han­dling of PTSD.

Jeff Wil­liams, a for­mer Royal Marine Com­mando who runs the Vet­er­ans United Against Sui­cide group, said: “How many have to die be­fore the Govern­ment wakes up and does some­thing. The MOD is in de­nial.”

Our in­ves­ti­ga­tion also re­vealed a se­ri­ous short­age of spe­cial­ist doc­tors

and sur­geons in all ar­eas such as or­thopaedics, plas­tics and burns plus anaes­thet­ics. Yes­ter­day a Min­istry of De­fence spokesman said: “We re­main com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing we have the right skills at every level and in every field of the armed forces and we have a range of ini­tia­tives to make sure we at­tract and keep the peo­ple we need. “The Sur­geon Gen­eral reg­u­larly en­gages with the sin­gle ser­vices to en­sure that we are max­imis­ing re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion of valu­able med­i­cal staff.”

Voice of the Sun­day Peo­ple: P14

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