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Charity calls for domestic abuse support in every hospital in England and Wales

Over half of domestic abuse victims visiting hospital had accessed emergency departments a year before getting effective help, research shows.
Charity calls for domestic abuse support in every hospital.

A domestic abuse charity has called for every hospital in England and Wales to have specialist domestic abuse support onsite.

In a report published today, domestic abuse charity SafeLives has warned hospitals were 'missing opportunities' to identify victims of domestic abuse.

It said that locating a team of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (Idvas) in a hospital is a key way to address the issue.

The charity has published research from over 4,000 victims supported in hospital and community settings.

Hospital adaptions

The three-year research project, which started in 2012, included a study of five English hospitals that had adopted the approach of locating specialist domestic abuse services in their emergency and maternity units.

SafeLives is calling for hospital-based Idvas to be integrated as part of a whole-system approach

A domestic abuse charity has called for every hospital in England and Wales to have specialist domestic abuse support onsite. 

In a report published today, domestic abuse charity SafeLives has warned hospitals were 'missing opportunities' to identify victims of domestic abuse.

Charity calls for domestic abuse support in every hospital
Charity calls for domestic abuse support in every hospital. Picture: iStock

It said that locating a team of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (Idvas) in a hospital is a key way to address the issue.

The charity has published research from over 4,000 victims supported in hospital and community settings.

Hospital adaptions

The three-year research project, which started in 2012, included a study of five English hospitals that had adopted the approach of locating specialist domestic abuse services in their emergency and maternity units.

SafeLives is calling for hospital-based Idvas to be integrated as part of a whole-system approach to support which include community based specialist domestic abuse services, mental health and health services.

Idvas liaise with other trust practitioners such as drugs and alcohol liaison nurses and learning disability nurses, to ensure a collaborative care pathway for patients.

The charity believes that having a team of Idvas in every hospital would help reach the estimated 4 out of 5 victims of domestic abuse who never contact the police, as well as providing an opportunity to save money through earlier identification. 

Health professionals interviewed as part of the research said that being able to refer patients to the hospital Idva made it more likely that they would ask patients about domestic abuse in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommendations.

Nice recommends that people presenting to frontline staff with indicators of possible domestic violence or abuse are asked about their experiences in a private discussion.

Healthcare staff also said having Idvas in hospitals gave them greater confidence that identification would result in a meaningful outcome for the victim.

Savings per patient

Domestic abuse costs the NHS £1.73 billion per year and the health cost saving after a hospital Idva intervention is £2,050 per patient, per year, which includes a rise in the use of GPs, practice nurses and health visitors, according to the research.

SafeLives said an investment of £100,000 per major hospital nationally would provide support for 15,000 additional victims of abuse.

Diana Barran, chief executive of SafeLives says: 'We already know that Idvas are a lifeline for victims of domestic abuse, and this research shows hospitals are in a place where they can make a real difference to some of the most vulnerable victims.’

The RCN launched an updated online resource about domestic violence and abuse for nurses and midwives earlier this month.


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