New guidance is being published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) regarding domestic violence. The guidance aims to raise awareness among those who come into contact with victims of abuse (primarily healthcare professionals).
Statistics show that every year 1.2 million women and 284,000 men in England and Wales experience domestic violence. According to experts however, these already high figures are probably an underestimation as many cases go unreported.
The guidelines published by NICE say doctors and nurses require training to better equip themselves when issues of domestic violence arise. This includes asking questions when violence is suspected and encouraging victims to seek help from specialist services.
The health watchdog are also keen to get universities and medical schools to make sure training about domestic violence is covered in their curriculums, and to strengthen any existing content on the subject.
NICE hope that with the appropriate training, front-line NHS staff will think to ask patients if they are being abused, and will be better able to handle the situation if the answer is yes. The guidelines also urge health managers to create the right environment for patients to disclose domestic violence.
Prof Mike Kelly, director of the centre for public health at NICE, has said that the guidance has been designed to “provide a wake-up call”.
“Domestic violence and abuse are far more common than people think. Everyone in society needs to understand both the extent of the problem and the damage it causes.”
The chief executive of charity Women’s Aid, Polly Neate, has also spoken out to say that professionals working in healthcare often work in the only safe space where a victim could visit and be supported without arousing the suspicion of the abuser.