GP MP fronts proactive military mental health campaign in UK

The government will set out plans to help GPs identify armed forces personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by the end of July.

Dr Murrison to lead reform (Photograph: Malcolm Case-Green)
Dr Murrison to lead reform (Photograph: Malcolm Case-Green)

Qualified GP Dr Andrew Murrison, Conservative MP for Wiltshire South West, will lead the initiative after being appointed parliamentary private secretary to health secretary Andrew Lansley.

Dr Murrison said: 'We need a system that is more proactive early on, rather than leaving people for a decade or more before they present to their doctor.'

The government will outline its approach before parliament's summer recess. Clinical guidelines are likely to come later, Dr Murrison said.

The system adopted will 'hone down more closely' on armed forces personnel in service and after they leave to determine if they are likely to have a problem, and ensure they are referred promptly to an appropriate specialist.

It may involve collaboration between the DoH and armed forces to create 'a mechanism for calling veterans to ensure they are well', which would operate in tandem with existing NHS services, Dr Murrison said.

He said that estimates of the proportion of armed forces personnel affected by PTSD varied widely, from 1 to 7 per cent.

'It's really tough on GPs to expect them to recognise veterans with PTSD,' he said.

GPs may see only a handful of cases in their professional lifetime, he pointed out, although cases may rise in the wake of recent conflict.

'Society has a protective obligation to veterans because they have been put in harm's way,' Dr Murrison said.

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