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Grenfell fire: Charred tower 'worsening trauma for community' says doctors

A GP says its is sparking flashbacks among her patients, while another doctor says people actively avoid looking at the stricken building

A GP says the scorched remains of Grenfell Tower is worsening the symptoms of trauma in the neighbourhood, as it acts as a daily reminder of the tragedy.

Dr Meena Nathan, who has worked in the area for three years, says patients living close to the stricken building have flashbacks caused by seeing the 24-storey building.

Getwestlondon has been told a white plastic netting will soon start covering the building as the recovery process progresses.

Dr Nathan lost several patients in the fire and used to visit the tower on call.

She told the Press Association: “There are common themes I have seen (among patients), which are flashbacks of the events, a lot of people currently are finding it difficult to see the tower at the moment.

“Where they are living across from the tower, it is a constant reminder and they are having flashbacks when they are looking at it.

“A couple of patients were saying that they can still hear the children screaming.

“I know recently patients have been upset by having tourists and having people coming and taking selfies with the tower - they are finding it very disrespectful and I understand that.”

Physical symptoms have also surfaced as a result of the trauma, including headaches, joint and muscle pain, she said.

According to NHS data, some 457 adults have been singled out as requiring “urgent” treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) .

For some, the blackened Grenfell Tower has exacerbated their mental anguish.

Dr Alastair Bailey, the clinical psychological lead at the NHS Grenfell trauma service, said: “The fact that the tower is still there and is very high and visible from a number of different places, it can act as a trigger for a lot of people.

“So we know lots of people are avoiding the area, some people who are not avoiding the area are actively avoiding looking at the tower nearby.

“We do know that it is a very visible reminder and a cause of some of the PTSD symptoms which we have talked about.”

Asked if he thought covering the tower would help treat patients suffering from PTSD in the area, Dr Bailey said: “Yes, I think so.”

Earlier this month a spokesman for Grenfell Response Team gave an update on the protective wrap to go up around the building.

It said: “The construction of scaffolding began on August 21, however due to the damage the tower sustained during the fire, the initial phase of the work has been on making sure we can safely tie the scaffolding to the lower floors.

“As work progresses the scaffolding will be covered as successive floors are cleared with a double layer of white plastic netting.”

At the first full council meeting following the disaster, which saw Elizabeth Campbell elected new leader of the administration, one distraught resident pleaded for the “terrifying” building to be covered .

The building is expected to be demolished towards the end of 2018 , after police have finished recovering evidence from inside.

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