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Front-line healthcare workers at risk of suffering from PTSD

ENGLAND could see more than 200,000 new referrals for post-traumatic stress disorder due to the pandemic with front-line healthcare workers particularly at risk, new estimates suggest. 

The Strategy Unit, a research group within the NHS, predicts there could be 230,000 new referrals for PTSD between 2020/21 and 2022/23 in England. 

The Royal College for Psychiatrists (RCP) warns today that front-line NHS staff are more at risk of developing the condition than army veterans. 

Professor Neil Greenberg, a PTSD specialist at the college, said: “It’s a common misunderstanding that only people in the armed forces can develop PTSD — anyone exposed to a traumatic event is at risk.

“However, clearly there are jobs, including working in many healthcare settings, where experiencing traumatic events is more common so the risk of developing PTSD is unfortunately much higher.”

Research carried out by King’s College London earlier this year found one in five intensive care staff across six NHS hospitals in England reported symptoms of the condition. 

RCP highlighted that this was more than twice the rate found in military veterans with recent combat experience. 

“Early and effective support can reduce the likelihood of PTSD and those affected should be able to access evidence-based treatment in a timely manner,” Prof Greenberg added. 

The rise in new referrals of PTSD are also likely to be driven by the trauma faced by Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care, the college added. 

A separate study last year found that more than one-third of Covid-19 patients put on a ventilator experienced symptoms of the condition. 

PTSD patients can develop symptoms such as flashbacks of the traumatic event, nightmares, or anxious thoughts. 

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