Skip to main content

Domestic Abuse: Medical Training

Volume 658: debated on Thursday 25 April 2019

3. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on improving training for frontline medical staff to help identify domestic abuse. (910534)

Tackling domestic abuse is a key priority for this Government. That is why we have put £2 million into expanding the pilot programme, which will create a model health response for survivors of domestic violence and abuse. Training for frontline medical staff to help identify domestic abuse is included in a wide range of training and education curriculums for health staff.

According to Women’s Aid’s “Survival and Beyond” report, 54% of women experiencing sexual and physical abuse meet the criteria for at least one common mental health disorder. I note what the Minister says about training, but what specific domestic abuse training is the Department considering to ensure that it actually happens?

I commend the hon. Lady’s work on the all-party parliamentary group on domestic violence and abuse. She will know that the Department produced a domestic abuse resource for health professionals that advises them on how best to support adults and young people over 16 who are experiencing domestic abuse, and that training is available now.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the publication of a definition of domestic abuse will help frontline staff to identify victims?

My hon. Friend is right. The definition, which also includes factors such as mental health and economic issues, will make things much clearer for frontline staff and help them to understand and look for incidents of domestic violence and abuse.

The most recent survey of women’s prisons shows that nearly 65% of prisoners have had a significant acquired brain injury, which often relates directly to their offending behaviour. The vast majority of the 65% have suffered domestic violence, so should we not be screening every woman as she arrives in prison to ensure that they get the neuro- rehabilitation support they need?

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point, and he will know that the Government have committed extra money to ensure women prisoners get the support they need for neuro problems when they enter prison.

Domestic violence can be extremely damaging for the children who witness it. What is the Minister doing to support those children?

My hon. Friend raises an important point, because domestic violence clearly impacts the whole of family life, and there is evidence that children are also affected. We need to ensure that there are no legal barriers to sharing data to protect children or vulnerable adults, and we need to ensure that the £8 million we are spending will help those children recover from domestic violence.

Health-based independent domestic violence advisers can identify victims of domestic violence that other services are unable to detect. SafeLives, the national domestic abuse charity, suggests that domestic violence often goes undetected among elderly and black, Asian and minority ethnic victims. Surely, by placing these professionals in an A&E environment, countless victims could be identified and helped. Will the Minister commit to placing independent domestic violence advisers in all A&E departments?

The hon. Lady raises an important point. We need to ensure that people are properly triaged for all sorts of diseases when they turn up at A&E, including domestic violence. I will reflect on her point and talk to NHS England about it.