News

Grenfell tragedy 'triggered unprecedented mental health response'

The Grenfell Tower tragedy triggered a mental health crisis of an 'unprecedented' scale, a leading doctor has said 100 days on from the fire.

The Grenfell Tower tragedy triggered a mental health crisis of an 'unprecedented' scale, a leading doctor has said 100 days on from the fire.

NHS data shows 457 adults have been flagged as being in urgent need of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, while 39 children are also receiving specialist mental healthcare.

Survivors and nearby witnesses of the fire on 14 June, which left about 80 dead, are considered to have a 50% chance of developing the disorder, according to health service modelling.

Flaskbacks and sleeplessness

Those affected by the tragedy report experiencing flashbacks and sleeplessness, which can be triggered by the sight of the tower's wreckage, clinicians say.

NHS Grenfell Tower Trauma Service clinical psychological lead Alastair Bailey said the impact of the fire is unlike anything seen before by the

The Grenfell Tower tragedy triggered a mental health crisis of an 'unprecedented' scale, a leading doctor has said 100 days on from the fire.


Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: PA Wire

NHS data shows 457 adults have been flagged as being in urgent need of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, while 39 children are also receiving specialist mental healthcare.

Survivors and nearby witnesses of the fire on 14 June, which left about 80 dead, are considered to have a 50% chance of developing the disorder, according to health service modelling.

Flaskbacks and sleeplessness

Those affected by the tragedy report experiencing flashbacks and sleeplessness, which can be triggered by the sight of the tower's wreckage, clinicians say.

NHS Grenfell Tower Trauma Service clinical psychological lead Alastair Bailey said the impact of the fire is unlike anything seen before by the health service.

He told the Press Association: 'It is unprecedented, I don't think we have experienced anything like it.

'We had similar events that have been large-scale, traumatic events that have occurred in the UK.

'We think about the London bombings, the terror attack in Tunisia which affected British nationals and other events over the years, but nothing has affected a community like this for a number of years.

'Similar events have occurred that have affected one community, things like the Hillsborough football disaster, the Aberfan disaster in Wales, similar in that they affected one community a number of years ago.

'In terms of a trauma response, managing an NHS response to trauma, we are using ideas and protocols and procedures that were developed after London bombings and other similar events, which are quite different.'

Management

A staff of about 170 mental health professionals, soon to be more than 200, have been tasked with supporting the west London community, holding specialist surgeries and knocking on doors to ensure support is given to those affected.

Currently, 201 patients are receiving treatment from mental health services in the area and eight people have completed treatment, said the Central and North West London NHS Trust (CNWL).

But, with more than 150 families from Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk still in hotels, many people affected by the tragedy are reluctant to begin receiving treatment.

Declining treatment

CNWL, the main service responding to the disaster, said 20% of patients referred to them decline further treatment, often citing their living arrangements as the problem.

Meena Nathan, a GP working in the area who lost several patients during the fire, said she feared the aftershock of the event could be felt for years to come.

'It's difficult to hear what they are saying,' she said.

'Heartbreaking, listening to them and then trying to give whatever support you can and we have a service we can offer with our local psychology team which we can refer to directly.

'To begin with, in the first few weeks every patient I saw would relate to Grenfell in one way or another.

'Now, about half my work would be related to Grenfell.'

Further information

Processing tragedy: the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs