The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has called for doctors and nurses to receive special training in domestic violence awareness.
The organisation has published new guidance on the topic, noting 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.”
The Institute adds:
“Domestic violence costs the country around £15 billion a year, of which £9.9 billion is in health and social care costs.”
Special training for healthcare professionals would help them recognise potential domestic abuse amongst patients and refer them to specialist services where appropriate, NICE claimed.
The organisation called on medical schools and universities to include domestic violence awareness in their curricula and to strengthen any existing material. Frontline services such as the police, housing agencies and schools, should work together more closely, NICE said.
Meanwhile, health service managers should encourage victims by creating “an environment for disclosing domestic violence and abuse”. This could include posters and other information in key areas.
The newly published guidance declares: “Health and social care service managers and professionals should ensure front-line staff in all services are trained to recognise the indicators of domestic violence and abuse and can ask relevant questions to help people disclose their past or current experiences of such violence or abuse.”
The guidance continues:
“The inquiry should be made in private on a one-to-one basis in an environment where the person feels safe, and in a kind, sensitive manner.”
Professor Mike Kelly is director of the centre for public health at NICE. He described the new guidance as 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.”