NHS Lothian – Supporting 16 Days of Action of Violence against Women

NHS Lothian is supporting the international 16 days of Action of Violence against women by highlighting the range of services offered by the NHS to support women and children affected by gender based violence (GBV).

Healthcare staff have a unique and crucial role in identifying and supporting all those affected by GBV. The physical, emotional and psychological consequences of abuse can be profound and damaging - both in the short and long term. Many survivors of past and present abuse, access health services and NHS Lothian currently supports a range of both practical and policy interventions to improve the care and support to the thousands of our patients who may never have told anyone about the abuse they have suffered.

Over 400 NHS Lothian staff, in key settings such as maternity, mental health, alcohol and drug services, community nursing, sexual health and Accident and Emergency, have received specialist training on GBV issues to improve their response and the support provided to individuals and families affected by abuse. This includes victims of domestic abuse; rape and sexual assault, and adult survivors and childhood sexual abuse. The link between GBV and greater mental and physical ill health is well understood and staff will work with those affected to improve their health, safety and well being, even if they are still within abusive relationships.

A range of GBV guides on the differing forms and impact of abuse have been developed, and NHS Lothian has produced an innovative Good Practice Toolkit for staff working with both victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse.

NHS Lothian plays a key role in the Lothian multi-agency Violence against Women Partnerships and has also developed a range of specialist services and protocols both within the health services and with other key agencies such as the police, community planning, children and families, criminal justice.

A recent campaign has seen posters promoting access to confidential support and advice distributed widely across health settings, and GP’s have received guidance on working with patients whom they know or suspect have been affected by sexual abuse.

Melanie Hornett, NHS Lothian Nurse Director, said:

“We are committed to supporting those affected by abuse and to working in partnership to reduce the incidence and impact of abuse on individuals, families and the wider community. All NHS staff are supported to access training and information on GBV- both to improve the quality of patient care and also to ensure that staff know where to get additional support for both themselves and patients”.