A VETERAN who runs a centre which provides help and assistance to former Armed Forces personnel has criticised the NHS for their care and services.

Scott Hawtrey, who served in the Royal Engineers, said that veterans with mental health problems often come into the centre, despite him and the volunteers not having the necessary training to deal with them properly.

Last week, a veteran came into Bolton Armed Forces Centre for Veterans suffering from a severe episode of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which resulted in Scott having to take him into A&E.

Scott said: “He was very agitated and got progressively worse while he was here, so I said ‘let’s go to hospital'.

However, when he arrived, Scott believes that the staff at Royal Bolton Hospital weren’t as understanding as they should have been.

He added: “I rang ahead and told them about the situation. When I got there and told them I had a veteran with PTSD, the response was ‘so what’s his problem?’.

“He was told to sit with the general population but I took him to a quiet area where the ambulances come in. He’d already attacked a car and someone and I told them he was kicking off, but I still had to sit there with my arms over him to stop him getting away.

“The staff are helpful but they don’t understand what PTSD is. They need more training on it.”

Police were later called to the centre, while the veteran was at his auntie’s house to try and him calm down.

Scott said: “The officer kept me updated on the situation. He was a veteran himself so knew a lot about this sort of thing.”

However, when Scott relayed the news that the veteran had been discharged early in the morning the next day, he says one of the police officers said to him ‘are you joking me?’.

Scott says that during the PTSD episode, he drove him around Bolton for two hours in an attempt to calm him down.

Despite this, the the veteran was still getting out of the car when possible to attack traffic lights and buildings. Scott says the police told him the veteran was eventually sectioned later in the week.

Another veteran who visits the centre, but who does not wish to be named, said: “I’ve been sectioned 12 times. There have been times where I’ve told them I’m going to top myself, but they’ve still discharged me at all hours of the night.

“People just don’t know what to say to us.”

Heather Edwards, Head of Communications at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are always supportive of veterans. We have a number of ex-soldiers and and Territorial Army who work with us.

“We have a certificate that acknowledges our support for the Armed Forces and our trust has and always will be supportive of them.”