Barking and Dagenham and Tower Hamlets doctors to receive extra domestic violence support training

GPs and healthcare professionals in Tower Hamlets and in Barking and Dagenham will receive extra tra

GPs and healthcare professionals in Tower Hamlets and in Barking and Dagenham will receive extra training in recognising signs of domestic violence. Picture: PA Wire - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Medical professionals in Barking and Dagenham and Tower Hamlets will receive extra training to recognise signs of domestic violence and offer victims support sooner.

The boroughs will share in £1million across two years from London's Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) for the delivery of a programme developed by social enterprise IRISi and partner organisations.

Specialist training for doctors and healthcare professionals is currently available in 10 boroughs and the additional funding will expand the programme across another seven - providing two dedicated domestic violence advocates per borough.

Department of Health figures show 80 per cent of women in a violent relationship seek help from health services and these are often a victim's first - or only - point of contact.

VRU director Lib Peck said: "Incidences of domestic abuse are unacceptably high, and the victims need urgent help - to keep victims safe, and also because we also know that domestic violence can manifest to wider violence.

"That is why we are investing in the IRISi programme, as we know that in many cases speaking to a GP can be a victim's first or only option for seeking help, and this way we can give healthcare professionals the tools needed to spot the signs of domestic violence at the earliest possible opportunity.

"We are determined to challenge the view that violence is inevitable and demonstrate that it is preventable."

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According to IRISi, women using GP surgeries in London where practitioners have already been trained are six times more likely to be referred to specialist support and to have had a conversation about domestic violence with their GP.

Patients at these practices also report feeling safer and more able to cope, with many saying they visited their GP less frequently as a result.

IRISi chief executive Medina Johnson said: "We train doctors and nurses to be professionally curious and to think about domestic violence when they are speaking with, meeting and consulting with a patient.

"Women tell us repeatedly that they want to be asked about what is going on for them at home and why their health is poor.

"They are at best, puzzled when nobody does and, at worst, left feeling alone, hopeless and unworthy of help."