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Grenfell Tower Fire - Request for help

Monday 17 July 2017

The CNWL IAPT service in Kensington and Chelsea (where Alastair Bailey alastair.bailey@nhs.net is Clinical Lead and Ross O'Brien ross.obrien@nhs.net is Service Manager) is the closest to the site of the Grenfell Fire. IAPT staff provided immediate emotional support and psychological first aid to those affected. Supported by non-IAPT colleagues from CNWL, WLMHT, CLCH, LCW and other NHS providers, and Voluntary Sector providers (for example British Red Cross) we then moved to offer assessment, support and advice to those displaced by the fire. Outreaching directly into the local community surrounding the Tower, into Hotels and Community Centres, the team worked incredibly hard and often under emotionally draining circumstances to identify people in need of help. PWPs were noted to be particularly good at the above.                                              

In parallel, we were developing an assessment and treatment pathway within IAPT and Step 4 Psychology. Screenings took place from the week after the fire and we developed the attached screening protocol with the support of Kerry Young and following helpful advice from Nick Grey and other trauma experts. The TSQ was used to give an indication of initial symptom severity and whether watchful waiting was indicated (the measure is best used at week 3+ for identifying possible PTSD cases). Watchful waiting was then offered with an emphasis on watchful and using a Psychological First Aid approach taken from   https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/manuals/manual-pdf/pfa/PFA_2ndEditionwithappendices.pdf. The attached good practice guide was developed to support clinicians. We have already had 200+ referrals and the rate of referral shows no sign of slowing. Our plans for the next steps are to offer treatment to those we have already seen and to use an outreach and screen approach to those who have not yet accessed help. We anticipate a very large number of people affected and in need of Psychological Therapy.

As you can appreciate, while this has been going on, we have also had to hit our targets. Support from colleagues in neighbouring boroughs has been invaluable. The next steps will require a large team of trauma therapists to deliver the screenings and therapy. Step 3 clinicians will deliver the therapy but Step 2 staff will also be needed to support the screening and outreach functions. We will also be working in partnership with colleagues from CAMHS.

So… we are now asking for your help! We are not going to be able to recruit a team of therapists in time to meet the demands placed upon us  so we are asking services to second staff members into this new service. Our request is for full time members of staff, or 3 days per week, to be seconded for a 6-12 month period.

Our focus is on Step 3 but we will also be looking for a smaller number of PWPs (for screenings and outreach). If possible, people with significant experience of working with PTSD would be ideal  - EMDR or TFCBT therapists are both helpful. We would pay for the backfill within your services, Trainee HIs completing courses might be in a good position to offer this backfill. Also, if you know of Step 4 / Specialist services who may have more experienced therapists (Band 7 or 8a) who may be able to provide a broader range of trauma focussed interventions (e.g. STAIR, NET), please let us know because we are anticipating high rates of Complex PTSD.

Please let Ross O’Brien know of any offers of help you can via ross.obrien@nhs.net.