Domestic Abuse: Training for Pre-Hospital Healthcare Professionals.

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2016 Health Care Service Group Conference
30 November 2015

Conference recognises that domestic abuse, whether inflicted by men on women, by women on men or by same sex couples must not be defended or tolerated in today’s modern society. However the abuse is caused or who causes it, when injury or ill health results and the victim is in need of medical attention, it often falls on the clinicians within our ambulance services to provide the initial treatment.

Invariably, domestic abuse is suffered in fearful silence, and when medical help is sought the victim is reluctant to provide the medical staff with truthful explanations as to how their injuries were sustained.

Current information for ambulance staff is covered in “The Clinical Manual” where reference is made to the OFSTED Review of Serious Case Reviews in which it notes that “the most common issues relating to children’s families were domestic violence, mental ill-health as well as drug / alcohol misuse.”

The Clinical Manual provides just two short paragraphs to explain that “domestic violence may be the result of women who use drugs being more likely to be in relationships with volatile men or that maternal drug misuse may be a consequence of having experienced domestic violence”. The manual continues by defining domestic violence as being “any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality”.

Conference believes that domestic violence is such a serious issue that it warrants more than simple referencing in 2 short paragraphs in an 800 page training manual. Ambulance personnel need proper and adequate training in how to deal with and manage a patient who they may suspect is a victim of domestic abuse. They should not be expected to rely solely upon a gut feeling based on their length of service. There must be a foundation training package which comprehensively prepares our ambulance staff to competently and confidently deal with victims of domestic violence.

We need to increase the awareness of domestic abuse throughout the NHS whilst at the same time call for improvement in the training being provided to our ambulance staff so that we are able to manage our patient appropriately and confidently in the knowledge that we have dealt with and treated them in confidence and have not placed them at risk of further or greater harm which may arise when there is insufficient training provided.

Conference instructs the Health Service Group Executive to seek to work with NHS Employers, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) and the Joint Royal College Ambulance Committee (JRCALC) in order to achieve:

1)Improved awareness of domestic abuse amongst staff that work in NHS services

2)The development and delivery of training programmes for all NHS workers who become directly or indirectly involved with patients who may be victims of domestic abuse

3)The development of systems to support NHS staff that have been emotionally affected by their interaction with victims of domestic abuse.