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March

NHS to better help victims of domestic violence

19 March 2010

The NHS must provide improved healthcare for women and children who are victims of violence, according to an independent taskforce involving researchers and clinicians from King’s Health Partners.

Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London (KCL) and a Consultant Obstetrician from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, both organisations part of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, were members of an independent taskforce that produced the report - ‘Responding to violence against women and children - the role of the NHS’ which lead to the creation of a new cross-government group set up to tackle the issue.

This report sets out a series of recommendations for the NHS to better support victims of violence. It stresses that increased awareness, training and education is necessary for NHS staff to be able to apply the same rigorous, systematic approach to this issue, as has been applied to other areas of NHS work, such as diabetes and stroke.

Dr Louise Howard, Member of the Domestic Violence Subgroup, and Clinical Reader and Head of Women’s Mental Health at IoP KCL said: 'Domestic violence can take many forms and does not just have to be physical. It can include emotional violence, restriction of social networks and financial abuse. It is a very serious public health issue that the NHS, with other agencies, needs to address.'

Professor Dinesh Bhugra, Member of the Taskforce Steering Group and Chair of Mental Health and Cultural Diversity at IoP KCL said: 'More women suffer rape or attempted rape than have a stroke each year, and the level of domestic violence in the population exceeds that of diabetes, according to the latest Department of Health figures.

'Researchers and clinicians are working side by side on these issues within King’s Health Partners in order to translate research more quickly into improved patient care for the population we serve, which is one of the most ethnically, socially and economically diverse in London with some of the poorest health indicators in the country .'

Dr Susan Bewley, Member of the Taskforce Steering Group and Consultant Obstetrician at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust said: 'King’s Health Partners is ideally placed to provide expert advice on this extremely important public health issue.

'We have world-leading researchers and clinicians working together as part of our Academic Health Sciences Centre, as well as a comprehensive range of clinical services dedicated to respond to the needs of patients, such as The Haven at King’s College Hospital, which is a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) funded jointly by the NHS and the Metropolitan Police Service, and the MOZAIC and REACH multiagency services in Maternity, GUM and A&E at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospitals for women and men experiencing domestic violence.'

The Taskforce on the Health Aspects of Violence Against Women and Children was announced in May 2009 and comprises third sector organisations, Royal Colleges, academics, other government departments and health care professionals from a range of backgrounds including emergency care, midwifery, paediatrics, general practice and child and adolescent mental health services.

Copies of the Taskforce report, the four sub-group reports, the findings from focus groups with women, children and NHS staff, and the Interim Government Response are available at www.dh.gov.uk/vawc.

For more information about the King’s College London evaluation of Mozaic service see: http://kcl.ac.uk/schools/nursing/research/themes/women/projects/maternal/domesticviolence.html.

 

 

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