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Ukraine refugees in UK face waits of up to two years for war trauma therapy

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Traumatised Ukrainian refugees who have sought sanctuary in the UK may have to wait two years before they can get specialised therapy to help them heal from the horrors of war, according to experts.

Therapists who specialise in treating war trauma say they have seen NHS waiting lists of two years before refugees can access the specialist treatment they need.

Services across the UK are patchy with some areas “treatment deserts when it comes to trauma”, according to Emily Palmer-White, a psychotherapist and community manager at the charity Room to Heal, which provides support for people who have fled persecution.

“There are often extremely long waiting lists. I have been told two years. You can’t separate the psychological from the practical – it’s more difficult to help people if they’re preoccupied with survival,” said Palmer-White.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said officials recognised the trauma Ukrainians were facing and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them. However, beyond having access to NHS care officials did not cite any specific provision to provide newly arrived refugees with trauma support.

Prof Cornelius Catona, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the visa delays of several weeks would likely exacerbate mental illness for those already struggling and that the refugee schemes should have included a mechanism for spotting signs of trauma early.

Viktoriia Liamets, a Ukrainian child and family therapist who recently arrived in the UK after fleeing the war, said Ukrainians arriving in Britain had multiple and complex traumas to contend with.

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Source: The Guardian, 9 May 2022

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