22/09/2006

'Lack of support' for London bombing victims

A report on the emergency response to the July 7 bombings in London last year has highlighted the failure to provide adequate support for victims.

The report, published by Home Secretary John Reid, said that the emergency response was sound and that emergency services had responded efficiently and with "bravery and professionalism."

However, the report also identified a need to share better information and provide practical and emotional support to both survivors and bereaved relatives.

It also highlighted the importance of establishing reception and assistance centres quickly.

There had been criticism that hundreds of 'walking wounded' were allowed to make their own way home without receiving medical treatment or having their names taken by authorities.

It was also claimed that casualty phone lines set up to help worried relatives could not cope with the volume of calls received.

Both Mr Reid and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell had met with families of the victims of the bombings as well as survivors since the attacks.

John Reid said: "This report concludes that the response to the bombings was fast, professional and effective. However, where shortcomings have been identified, we have set out the work in hand to address them.

"In times of crisis, information and support must be readily available and easy to access for those who need it. Getting the right help in place is of critical importance and we are working hard to strengthen our emergency response."

Ms Jowell said: "Since the attacks, we have met with many of those who were bereaved or injured. While they have differing experiences, it is clear that more could have been done to support all those who were caught up in the attacks - on the day and in the weeks and months that followed."

A second report, by the London Resilience Forum, described the initial response by London Underground staff as "exemplary" and pointed out that 1,200 hospital beds were made ready in three hours.

That report said that the capital is "better prepared than ever" to deal with a terrorist attack.

The second report dealt specifically with the response of the capital, while the first report covered the national and central government perspective.

(KMcA/EF)

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