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Troops face long wait for health care

British troops who suffered mental illness after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are having to wait up to 18 months for treatment, it was reported on the Mail online.

New Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures reveal 2,123 servicemen and women have been treated for mental health conditions after returning from Iraq since 2003.

Services mental health charity Combat Stress, which runs three homes for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, reported a worrying increase in the number of Iraq veterans referred.

Toby Elliott, the charity's chief executive, told the Sunday Times: "Twenty-five years on from the Falklands war, we have seen less than 400 soldiers (from that conflict).

"The rate of admission from Iraq is much faster. The worry is that it is only the bow wave of what will be coming for many years."

The MoD said it took the issue of mental health problems "extremely seriously" and gave Combat Stress around £2.8 million a year for treatment courses.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "We regularly ask ex-service organisations who represent veterans to provide details of any cases where there appears to be entitlement to priority treatment and it has been denied.

"Very few cases are referred to us and most of these are the result of the individual misunderstanding entitlement rules. Priority is a matter for the clinical judgment of the doctor concerned.

"Where priority is denied it may be because another patient required more urgent treatment."

A Department of Health spokeswoman added: "It is important to ensure that soldiers who have suffered psychological trauma as a result of their experiences in the armed forces have access to the services they need."

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