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GPs should play key role in preventing domestic abuse, says DH

GPs are in a ‘unique position’ to play a key role in combating domestic violence, according to the Department of Health, the RCGP, and Public Health England.

In their joint support of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) – the health bodies have said that GPs are in a ‘unique position to empower women’ to seek help because they speak to women and families over a long period of time.

GP also have an important role to in the domestic homicide reviews by involving their patients, sharing their understanding, information and learning – and this can help improve the response across the health and care system locally, as well as nationally, DH said.

According to DH, around 1.2m women experienced domestic abuse in the last year in England and Wales, and 76 women were killed by their current or former partner.

Public Health England has also launched a new toolkit to help organisations support people experiencing domestic abuse.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘GPs are at the frontline in recognising and helping those experiencing domestic violence and abuse. But domestic violence is still a taboo subject, with a lot of societal stigma attached.

‘The difficulty for GPs in identifying patients and their children exposed to violence is that they rarely present with physical signs of abuse or disclose spontaneously during the consultation. This can be even more complex for patients who are in same sex and transgender relationships.

‘GPs need to be able to respond appropriately and safely to patients we suspect are in violent relationships but who are worried about speaking out and seeking help.’

Readers' comments (9)

  • the never ending list goes on, this weeks its the above and complete dementia care. a few weeks ago all the terrorists....next any and everything.RCGP response is always of course we can do it with our limitless resources, funding, GP and staff

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  • Are we preventing, combating or just responding appropriately?

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  • "GPs should" again. Hasn't been one for about 72 hours.

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  • why is our 'esteemed' RCGP chair encouraging more work our way. There are no end of worthy things we could do,however we're struggling with the real things we actually do.

    Lets start with stopping primary care collapsing.

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  • I will just add this to...GP's are well placed to solve the middle east crisis, cure ebola, solve climate change and broker world peace. Is there nothing we cannot do?

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  • Leave it to those who know best , are trained appropriately and are funded to help

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  • It appears when it comes to 'taking responsibility' one of the many mantras of the Government, they appear to be seriously adept at passing the buck.

    Seems to me that their real underlying goal is to push our much valued GP's to either have a 'mental collapse' or to escape the ongoing torment by jumping on the first available boat to happier realms; leaving a great hole to be filled by the private corporations....

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  • I've put 'encouraging World Peace' on next years CPD. I think that will cover it all...

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  • Dear Maureen. Recently saw a women beaten black+ blue by her partner, in front of 3 young kids, told her I was obliged to report this to social work as child protection issue. Ended up as complaint from both mother and partner who was also our patient. i would do the same again every time as its a child protection issue but spending hours responding to "complaint " to health board and now apparently to GMC! Will they back me up, tell me I've done the right thing, all about protecting children and all that , but I don't believe for a minute the GMC will back me up. Easier to do nothing at all, but I am still a GP and still have a conscience and ethics! But I wonder how many of us have stopped doing the right thing as it's just grinding us down so much!

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