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The screen and treat programme: a response to the London bombings

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London bombings

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The London bombing was the largest mass casualty event in the UK since World War Two with 56 deaths and 775 casualties among the approximately 4000 individuals involved. The sequel of events, from 7th July to 23rd July 2005, included detonated bombs on three underground trains (Edgware Road, Kings Cross, and Aldgate) and on a bus in Tavistock Square, as well as unsuccessful bomb attempts and the shooting of an innocent passenger in the days following the bombings. The NHS mental health response programme was set up within a month of the London bombings incident. Within the first two weeks the Psychosocial Steering Group was convened by Camden & Islington Foundation NHS Trust and the London Development Centre for Mental Health (part of the national Care Services Improvement Partnership), with representation from specialist psychological trauma centres, health commissioners, primary care physicians, the emergency services, first response agencies, the Health Protection Agency, and survivor groups. Using the available evidence, the Steering Group established that around 30 per cent of the 4000 individuals affected by the incident would need psychological treatment. Existing services could not meet that need so the Department of Health (DH) funded an evidence-based programme which consisted of a central screening and assessment team and additional psychological treatment resources based in existing trauma centres. The Steering Group retained responsibility for the overall management of the Screen and Treat programme over the two-year funding period.

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