Tackling domestic abuse in Tayside

NHS TAYSIDE is working in partnership with local councils, Tayside Police and voluntary groups to address the effects of domestic abuse on women and children across the region.

Work is currently ongoing through the Violence Against Women (VAW) multi-agency partnership groups which include representation from NHS Tayside’s Public Health department and Community Health Partnerships, housing, social work, police, criminal justice, education, young people’s services and voluntary organisations.

These groups lead and support the majority of VAW work across Tayside and all work involves staff, the public and user groups.

An NHS Tayside group also oversees additional information sharing, development work and the implementation of NHS Scotland’s Gender Based Violence Programme (GBV).

One of the key priorities of the programme is routine enquiry of abuse within the priority settings of mental health, substance misuse, midwifery, A&E and MIIUs, community nursing and sexual and reproductive health. This involves asking all patients and clients direct questions in relation to domestic abuse and child sexual abuse. Staff can then signpost anyone who requires help and support to the relevant services.

Within Tayside this was piloted in 2010 within specific teams in mental health, substance misuse and midwifery. Following the pilot and evaluation NHS Tayside now plans to extend the implementation of the programme across all mental health, substance misuse and midwifery services in Tayside over the coming year as well as rolling out to community nursing, sexual and reproductive health, A&E and MIIU’s.

Detailed training plans are currently being put in place to address the roll out of the training required.

The programme also includes the introduction of guidelines to support staff and managers in addressing domestic abuse and its effects on staff working with clients and patients who may be suffering abuse, but also personally for employees who may be experiencing abuse at home.

Domestic abuse is a major public health and human rights concern, as well as a serious social problem with an estimated one third of all women in Scotland experiencing abuse at some point in their lives.

Evidence shows that it is widespread and under-reported, and the level of repeat incidence is high.

The effects of domestic abuse on children, who are very often present or in nearby rooms when the abuse occurs, are significant and include both mental and physical symptoms. The way in which children witness domestic abuse and the potential effects have been compared to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The impact of domestic abuse on children and young people is of increasing concern in Tayside where it is the second highest reason for registration in over a third of all cases on the child protection register in Perth and Kinross and forms 80% of the cases discussed at police screening forums in Dundee and Angus.