Today, on behalf of the Government, I formally welcome the report from the independent Taskforce on the Health Aspects of Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC).
The taskforce, led by Sir George Alberti, was established in May 2009 to identify the role of the national health service in responding to women and children who are victims of violence. It created four sub-groups to examine domestic violence; sexual violence against women; child sexual abuse; and harmful traditional practices (female genital mutilation, forced marriage, honour-based violence) and trafficking.
It brings together expertise from the health service, third sector and academia, and its report sets out recommendations on what more the NHS needs to do to improve its response to victims of violence. Women and children service users and NHS staff were also consulted to inform the report.
I welcome the messages in the report and would like to thank Sir George and the members of the taskforce steering group and four sub-groups for all the work that went into this report and those of the sub-groups. The health service has a crucial role to play in identifying and treating victims and it is important that we are able to support victims effectively and sensitively and to prevent them from becoming victims of any further violence.
Alongside the independent report, the Department has today published an interim Government response to the recommendations setting out our proposed next steps. A more detailed implementation plan will be drawn up by the autumn.
I am placing a copy of the report in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office.