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Working together to end domestic violence and abuse.

NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, are calling for greater awareness regarding domestic violence and abuse.

In a press release today, NICE have announced that they have published new guidance on helping to identify, prevent, and overall reduce, domestic violence and abuse.  The recommendations in this guidance initiative offer advice and support for those in the health and social care profession, specialist domestic abuse services, or anyone who might come in to contact with people experiencing domestic abuse.

The press release states that “Each year at least 1.2 million women and 784,000 men experience domestic violence and abuse in England and Wales, with one in three women and nearly one in five men experiencing it at some point in their lives.” These are shocking statistics, made all the more worrying when unreported incidents of domestic abuse are taken in to account. This has motivated NICE to really push for the need to have better training and guidance for professionals, in order to more readily identify the signs of domestic abuse, and offer a more conducive atmosphere where a victim might feel more at ease to disclose their experiences of abuse and seek appropriate help and support.

Professor Gene Feder, Professor of Primary Health Care at the University of Bristol, and chair of the group that developed the new NICE guidance, says, “This guidance promotes a more active role for health and social care services which have always dealt with the consequences of domestic violence, even when professionals did not realise the abuse was occurring. We need patients to feel safe to tell us what really happened to them. The doctors and nurse in general practice need training: to ask safely about abuse, about how to respond effectively, and about how to help by encouraging patients to go to local specialist domestic violence services. Those services are an essential part of an effective health and social care response to domestic violence and abuse.

Currently there are only certain group of health staff who receive specialist training in recognising domestic abuse and how to respond and offer support to individuals who are affected. These recommendations by NICE state that all staff should be trained, to first of all recognise the signs of domestic abuse, but to also respond well to patients, and talk to them in such a way that makes them feel secure and believe that confiding in someone is a safe option for them.

The guidance also aims to ensure that every individual who comes forward knows that they will receive all the help and support they could need. This is not always the case as, even though there are good domestic abuse services available to individuals, they may not always be aware of them and feel they would not be supported.

As well as the specific training suggested in the guidance, other recommendations from the new guidance include, making essential information available about accessible support in the area, such as contact details of local groups, or national help lines, clearly displaying these in areas such as waiting rooms. The guidance also recommends that the safety of individuals should be a priority, and their safety should be regularly assessed to determine the treatment needed, immediately and in the long term, as well as assessing the wider social and behavioural effects.

Rhian Bowen Davies, Chief Executive Calan DVS says “We fully support the NICE recommendations contained within this guidance. In Wales, we recognise the progress that has been made to date with regards to improving responses of Health to domestic abuse. Routine enquiries and training for certain health professionals recognises the links between domestic abuse and health and the unique position that health professionals are in to recognise and support individuals who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse. This guidance has the opportunity to provide a consistency of approaches across the UK in raising awareness and understanding of professionals and improving confidence to recognise and respond to individuals; and also gives confidence to individuals experiencing domestic abuse that they can speak about their experiences in a safe and supportive environment”.

To view the new guidance from NICE, visit the website here.