NHS England joins the Employer’s Initiative on Domestic Abuse as a beacon member

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 (

Kate Davies

Kate Davies CBE, Director of Health and Justice, Armed Forces and Sexual Assault Services Commissioning, NHS England.

Kate is the national director for healthcare services across England for Armed Forces serving personnel, veterans and their families; sexual assault referral centres (SARCs); and prisons, immigration removal centres and secure children’s homes and training centres. Her national role is to assure high quality, consistent and sustained services with a strong focus on health inequalities and outcomes for patients and their families.

Kate has developed and led national partnership agreements with the Ministry of Defence for Armed Forces commissioning, the Ministry of Justice for prisons and the children and young people secure estate and the Home Office for immigration removal centres. These agreements focus on core objectives and outcomes across Government for key patient areas that can only be delivered in partnership.

From a health and justice perspective, she has led the development of the national Liaison & Diversion Programme and Street Triage, the roll out of community sentence treatment requirements and the launch of RECONNECT to support prison leavers transition to community health and wellbeing services. Kate has facilitated the roll-out of increased provision for survivors of sexual violence, the launch of the Strategic Direction for Sexual Assault and Abuse Services and the development of enhanced sexual assault and abuse pathfinder services for individuals with complex trauma mental health needs.

Prior to her current role, Kate worked in a range of senior positions, including the Executive Lead for Prison, Detainee and SARCs Healthcare Commissioning for East Midlands; the strategic director of the award-winning Nottinghamshire County Drug and Alcohol Action Team, where she co-ordinated and delivered the Government’s National Drug Strategy; and the Director of Black and Ethnic Minority Community Engagement at the University of Central Lancashire, International School for Communities Rights and Inclusion. This follows her early career, when she worked as a probation office in the probation service.

In addition, Kate has been a Non-Executive Director on the National Treatment Agency Board and a member of the Government’s independent Board for the Prison Drug Treatment Strategy Patel Review, which implemented the Substance Treatment Service and strategy and delivery across England. She has also been an Ambassador for Diversity in Public Appointments for the Government Public Appointments Commission.

Kate’s strong leadership style and commitment to lived experience, co-production and addressing health inequalities, has led to her being awarded an OBE in 2009 for services for disadvantaged communities and a CBE in 2018, for her work to improve services for some of the most vulnerable groups. She is also an Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University in recognition of her commitment to health and social equality.