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Nurses have ‘significant role to play’ in supporting domestic abuse victims, says RCN

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The Royal College of Nursing has pledged to do more to support nurses and midwives working with families affected by domestic abuse, as well as helping any of its members suffering abuse at home.

Nurses and midwives are among professional groups more likely to come into contact with families experiencing domestic abuse, noted the college.

“All nursing staff need to be prepared to identify and help victims of domestic abuse”

Carmel Bagness

However, the RCN acknowledged that nursing practitioners’ knowledge and skills in the area varied significantly across the UK.

A new RCN position statement on domestic abuse affirms its commitment to supporting nurses, midwives and healthcare workers to understand domestic abuse, “whether it affects them personally or professionally”.

It stated that the RCN was committed to “keeping this complex issue on the policy agenda, especially working to inform and support nurses and midwives to better understand their roles and responsibilities”.

Support for nurses and midwives should include training to help them spot the signs of abuse, understand the impact, what to do and the safeguarding and referral routes available, said the statement.

Carmel Bagness, RCN professional lead for midwifery and women’s health, said nurses and midwives had a key role in supporting those affected by domestic abuse.

“Domestic abuse is a highly complex issue and nursing and midwifery staff have a significant role to play,” she said.

“From health visitors to A&E nurses, all nursing staff need to be prepared to identify and help victims of domestic abuse whether they are male or female, adult or child,” she said.

“This statement affirms the RCN’s long-held commitment to helping nursing and midwifery staff best support victims, whilst lobbying for improved services across the UK,” she added.

Earlier this year, the college published a pocket guide setting out how nurses and midwives could identify potential abuse and the actions they should take.

It follows the creation of an online clinical resource in late 2016 and a “pathway of care” tool developed more recently, which the college said could be used as a blueprint for local teams when it comes to supporting abuse victims.

The RCN said it was also working with nursing education providers to ensure domestic abuse “plays a prominent role” in pre-registration and post-registration training.

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