The BMA is working on developing e-learning materials to help GPs detect earlier signs of domestic abuse, it said today.
The BMA statement, made on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, said it was working with an alliance set up by former shadow attorney general Baroness Scotland to raise awareness and help equip health professionals with the skills to identify and support suspected victims.
A quarter of women in the UK will be victims of domestic abuse during their lifetimes, and two women a week die as a result, despite generally increasing awareness and tougher laws.
Currently, just 23% of incidents are reported to the police, but further development of resources may help raise awareness amongst doctors and give them the confidence to report early warning signs, the BMA said.
Professor Sheila Hollins, chair of the BMA’s Board of Science, said: ‘In light of funding and resource cuts we need an end to the unstructured investment and overlapping of resources, which make it much more difficult for victims to access services, and instead move towards a more proactive detection of the early signs of domestic abuse.’
‘With only 23% of domestic abuse incidents reported to the police, doctors have a vital role to play in identifying signs of domestic abuse. On average, female victims are subjected to 37 attacks before the police become involved. During this time a large number of these may come into contact with their GP, accident and emergency doctors, obstetricians, midwives or nurses.’
‘It is important that we give healthcare professionals the confidence to identify and support victims, and continue to work to raise awareness amongst doctors which is why we are working with Baroness Scotland’s Global Alliance to develop E-learning materials to give doctors the tools to help sooner victims of this appalling crime.’