Nurses, social workers, health services and the organisations they work with must be better trained to understand domestic violence and help those experiencing it, the National Institute of Health and Social Care has said.
The institute has published new guidance aimed at helping to identify, prevent and reduce domestic violence, as well as outlining the most effective responses to it.
Source: tomalu - Fotolia
Recommendations from the new guidance include specific training for health and social care professionals in how to respond, training frontline staff in all services to recognise the indicators of domestic violence and ask relevant questions to help people disclose their past or current experience.
In addition, it called for prioritising people’s safety to determine what type of service someone needs.
Domestic violence and abuse comes in many forms, such as physical abuse, threats, emotional abuse, sexual assault or stalking by a partner, ex-partner or family member.
It is thought that at least 1.2 million women and 784,000 men experience domestic violence and abuse in England and Wales every year, with a third of women and nearly a fifth of men experiencing it at some point in their lives.
However, all types of domestic violence are under-reported, so the actual figure could be significantly higher.
Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, said: “This new guidance recommends that health and social care professionals should receive training so that they can recognise the signs of domestic violence and abuse, and ensure that those affected are aware of the help and support available to them.”
Professor Susan Bewley, honorary professor of complex obstetrics at King’s College London and guidance developer, said: “Domestic violence often starts or escalates in pregnancy.
“This is why it is important for those of us working on the frontline in maternity services to know what to look for, but also be able to ask women about it in such a way that they will tell us,” she said.
“We train midwives and obstetricians to look out for domestic violence, but we need to do more to raise the standard of this training to ensure everyone knows how to create a safe and confidential environment,” she added.
Are you able to Speak out Safely?
Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS