New project will help GPs spot victims of domestic abuse

HELP ... New scheme will help victims of domestic abuse.
HELP ... New scheme will help victims of domestic abuse.

A NEW initiative helping family doctors to identify domestic violence victims has been launched in South Tyneside.

The Domestic Violence and Abuse in Primary Care project brings together the council , South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), local GPs and voluntary and community agencies, to promote the work they do and the services they provide to support victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

The project, developed by the council’s community safety team, focuses on identifying domestic abuse cases within local GP surgeries, with surgery staff trained to look out for patients who experience abuse, to listen, offer guidance and signpost them to support services within the Council or partner agencies.

Coun Tracey Dixon, the council’s lead member for area management and community safety, said: “The impact of domestic abuse is not only confined to the victim and the perpetrator. It has devastating, far-reaching effects on the lives, and the physical and emotional health and wellbeing, of those who suffer, and on their children.

“Family doctors are uniquely placed and trusted, having forged close bonds with patients, and can play a huge role in helping to encourage those affected by domestic abuse to come forward, speak out and seek help. We hope that by developing closer links with GP services, we can support more victims to break the cycle.”

Dr Matthew Walmsley, chairman of the CCG, said: “Early recognition and timely support can make a real difference to people facing domestic abuse, and GP practices will welcome this initiative.

“Doctors can play a key role in recognising signs of abuse, and putting people in touch with specialist services. This project will help GPs offer better support to people experiencing abuse, with a link worker to advise and provide additional training to both doctors and practice staff.”

The project, which has been established within the council’s impact family services team, has been funded due to support from the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC.

Ms Baird said: “I am delighted to support this new initiative which will provide domestic abuse victims with a vital link to support and a pathway to safety.

“I know people develop close relationships with their GP often entrusting them with information they do not feel able to share with anyone else and they are in a perfect position to help people to services they might be able to use.

“Domestic abuse is an issue which affects many people and not only those who are victims or perpetrators. This is an important initiative which will provide huge support to those affected by this issue.”

The launch of the project coincided with South Tyneside Council’s support for this year’s White Ribbon Day – a global movement towards ending domestic violence and calling on people to pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about domestic abuse.

For more information about the range of services available visit www.southtyneside.info/domesticviolence.