Acid victim calls for better NHS mental health support after attack ‘destroyed his life’

Jameel Muhktar and his cousin Resham Khan suffered severe burns in an attack in June

Lydia Smith
Sunday 10 December 2017 15:47 GMT
Acid attack victim Jameel Muhktar: There's a lot professionals need to learn about acid attacks

A man who was targeted in a vicious acid attack earlier this year has called for better mental health support for victims.

Jameel Muhktar, 37, suffered serious burns to his head and body after the attack in Beckton, east London, on 21 June.

His cousin Resham Khan, 21, was also left severely injured after the perpetrator threw a corrosive substance through the windows of the car they were travelling in.

“I feel like it’s destroyed my life,” Mr Muhktar told Sky News.

“I’m still in severe pain. I can’t move my head left to right. I’m deaf in one ear. I can hardly walk. I’ve had all sorts of skin grafts.”

He said he had ended up living in a bedsit alone and had suffered a breakdown because of the trauma he had endured.

“I don’t think they (the NHS) understand about these attacks,” he said, adding that he wanted counselling.

Ms Khan has blogged about her experience and recovery online, as well as the lasting impact the attack left on her in the months afterwards.

“Today I was too petrified to walk to my local shop,” she wrote in July. “Too scared to face the world. Too scared of the looks I might get.

“Too scared to tackle the question ‘how are you’. Just too scared. That’s all I’ve been. Terrified and reluctant. My life on pause, frozen with fear.”

John Tomlin, 25, of Canning Town in east London, has pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He is due to be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 26 January.

The UK now has one of the highest number of recorded acid attacks per person of any country in the world, with more than 800 reported attacks a year, the police warned this week.

As well as the significant harm caused to individuals, the NHS estimates the average cost of care for a victim requiring specialist burns treatment, eye care, rehabilitation and mental health treatment is £34,500.

Professor Chris Moran, national clinical director for trauma at NHS England, said: “Whilst this type of criminal assault remains rare, the NHS is caring for an increasing number of people who have fallen victim to these cowardly attacks.

“One moment of thoughtless violence can result in serious physical pain and mental trauma, which can involve months if not years of costly and specialist NHS treatment.”

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