Supporting those who work for the NHS, looking after each other and fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging is essential; and how we will do this is detailed in the NHS People Plan for 2022/23. As part of this, we need to recognise that some staff may be the victims or perpetuators of domestic abuse.
A 2016 report by the Cavell Trust revealed that nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are three times more likely to have experienced domestic abuse by a partner or ex-partner in the last year than the average person.
The SafeLives’ ‘A Cry for Health’ report estimates that 51,355 NHS staff (44,825 female and 6,530 male) experienced domestic abuse over the course of a year, with the domestic abuse commissioner suspecting this to be heavily underreported.
These stark figures depict an unsettling reality that with around 1.3 million staff in the NHS, it is quite probable that some of our colleagues are victims of domestic abuse or work with someone who is.
As part of the Women’s Health Strategy, NHS England has a commitment to ensure women and girls who are victims of violence and abuse are supported by the healthcare system and in the workplace. This includes taking an increased role in prevention, early identification and provision of support for victims and survivors for both men and women.
In response to NHS England’s commitment to supporting and empowering colleagues who are victims and survivors of domestic abuse, we are proud to announce that NHS England is joining the Employer’s Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA) as a ‘beacon’ member. By becoming a beacon member, NHS England will be seen as a national leader in tackling domestic abuse through harnessing the achievements of member organisations around tackling domestic abuse and sharing learning and advice to other organisations.
Members of EIDA make a commitment, as employers, to take positive action:
- for their employees and best support those affected by domestic abuse
- to change workplace cultures around domestic abuse
- to encourage more employers to take action around domestic abuse.
Joining EIDA presents a significant opportunity to ensure staff who are victims of domestic violence and abuse are better supported in the workplace and are aware of how to access any support they may need. This includes ensuring health employers and colleagues feel equipped to support fellow staff and are provided with the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to victims and perpetrators of abuse.
There is already fantastic work in areas of the NHS in supporting staff around domestic abuse. For example, NHS England piloted an integrated hospital independent domestic violence advisor (IDVA) service at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.
The IDVA service helped clinicians in spotting the signs of domestic abuse and sexual violence and providing specialist support for patients who have experienced domestic abuse and/or sexual violence. The pilot saw an increase in staff referrals to the service and was able to provide specialist support to staff with experience of domestic abuse and sexual violence. The service is now well embedded within the trust, with recent months seeing an upward trend in staff presenting.
The NHS has a real opportunity through joining EIDA to transform employers’ responses to domestic abuse by considering how the NHS can better systematise support for victims, early intervention, prevention and address related access and health inequality issues.
The NHS England Safeguarding app is already live, which provides information on how to report a safeguarding concern and access up to date legislation and guidance. NHS England also has an already established domestic abuse policy for NHS England staff.
If you or someone you know would like support in relation to domestic abuse and sexual violence, please visit victim and witness services – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).