Army accused of neglecting part-time soldiers' health

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The demand by the National Audit Office follows allegations that dozens of reservists had been discharged from the Army with mental health problems, but were denied access tohelp from military psychologists.

Sir John Bourne, the Comptroller and Auditor General and head of the NAO, told MPs last week he had asked the Ministry of Defence to give part-time soldiers the same access to military doctors as full-time troops. The NAO said that 22 per cent of reservists admitted they found their deployment "traumatic".

The latest figures suggest that of the 60 Territorial Army soldiers diagnosed with mental problems after serving in Iraq, about half have been refused support by the Army, and expected to turn instead to ill-equipped NHS trusts.

The problem has escalated since the violent backlash against the occupation of Iraq intensified. Experts expect dozens more cases to emerge. Military commanders are considering giving reservists greater access to psychologists after they return to civilian life.