New RCGP guidance on domestic abuse

NEW guidance on recognising and responding to signs of domestic violence has been published by the RCGP.

Responding to Domestic Abuse: Guidance for General Practices provides some key principles to help GPs and healthcare staff respond quickly and effectively to patients who disclose domestic abuse.

The guidance encourages practice managers to build strong partnerships with local domestic abuse services and ensure domestic abuse training for the practice team. Practices should establish a domestic abuse care pathway, so that the team understands the correct process for identifying abuse, responding to disclosure, risk assessment, referral and information sharing.

It also advises direct referral to a domestic abuse service for further assessment of any patient disclosing abuse to a clinician. Some practices may develop an internal referral route to a practice nurse or other health professional with additional domestic abuse training who will conduct the specialist assessment.

Among other resources the guidance includes a process map for responding to domestic abuse and a services directory.

Diana Barran, chief executive of the national charity Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA), said: "There isn’t a victim, child or perpetrator who doesn’t have a GP. This means that GPs are in a unique and trusted position to help victims through early identification and signposting to specific support services. By supporting GPs to give a consistent response, this new guidance will help make victims safer."

The guidance was produced in collaboration with national charity CAADA, the Identification & Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) programme and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and was funded by the Department of Health.