Intended for healthcare professionals


Chilcot: physical and mental legacy of Iraq war on UK service personnel

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 12 July 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i3842
  1. Neil Greenberg, professor1,
  2. Anthony Bull, professor2,
  3. Simon Wessely, chair of psychological medicine3
  1. 1King’s Centre for Military Health Research, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, King’s College London, London, UK
  2. 2Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies, Imperial College London, London, UK
  3. 3Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, King’s College London
  1. Correspondence to: S Wessely simon.wessely{at}

Long term consequences remain unknown, particularly for “unexpected survivors”

The much awaited Chilcot report focused on the legitimacy of the UK going to war in Iraq.1 But the UK citizens most directly affected by the war were members of the armed forces and their families. A total of 179 British service personnel were killed in the conflict, and many more received life changing physical and mental injuries. The Ministry Of Defence reports a total of 5970 casualties, including deaths up to July 2009.2

In April 2003 the UK Ministry of Defence commissioned an independent study of the health and wellbeing of Iraq war veterans (Chilcot, 16.2, 58-). This study, now completing its third wave of data collection, compared military personnel who had or had not been to Iraq, and found no new “Iraq war syndrome”3; no significant increase in probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or common mental health disorders; and only a modest increase in …

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