More help to be given to Norfolk GPs to spot domestic abuse
23:34 08 May 2014
Doctors across Norfolk are to be given better support in helping to reduce the risk of harm to domestic abuse victims after concerns raised in two homicide reviews.
Reviews into the deaths of 44-year-old Andrea Johnson who was shot dead by her husband Keith Johnson, North Norfolk District Council leader and former mayor of Cromer, in December 2012 after years of violence and Angela Crompton, nee Phillips, 34, who died after being hit around the head with a hammer by husband Thomas Crompton following a row at their home in June 2012.
The reviews, published last year, highlighted issues around health professionals’ awareness of the dangers surrounding domestic abuse and identified an urgent need for awareness training to be delivered to all GP practices across the county.
In response to the review, domestic abuse charity Leeway commenced a programme of training for GPs and their staff in December 2013.
Now Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett, who has made tackling domestic violence one of his priorities, has offered up a grant of £17,500 to continue the training programme and secure its delivery to all of the 115 GP practices in Norfolk.
He said: “In 2013, 13,000 domestic abuse incidents were reported to Norfolk Police. We know that this figure is just the tip of the iceberg. Figures show that, on average, a woman will experience more than 30 incidents of abuse before reporting it and, as time goes on, the severity of the abuse increases, along with the risk to the victim and any children in the household.
“Long before making a report to police, victims may well seek help from health professionals to address one or more of the numerous symptoms which may indicate what they are going through. These symptoms include depression or anxiety, poor sleeping, irritable bowel, drug and alcohol misuse or mental health issues.”
In line with review recommendations, the training delivered by Leeway will equip GPs and their staff to recognise the symptoms of domestic abuse, feel able to ask the questions of the patient to establish if they are experiencing domestic abuse, and understand the referral process to appropriate support and associated risks to victims of intervention or no intervention.
In order to continue its training programme and ensure comprehensive coverage across the county, Leeway has recruited dedicated domestic abuse specialist and former Norfolk detective sergeant Ian Fox.
He said: “I am grateful for the opportunity to use my experience in conjunction with the solid reputation Leeway has developed within the Domestic Abuse environment and in turn will educate GPs in identifying patients who may be experiencing domestic abuse.”
Mr Bett added: “As one of the key domestic abuse support providers in Norfolk, Leeway are a mine of knowledge, skill and experience, with an in-depth understanding of exactly how domestic abuse is affecting our county. They are not only a well-established training provider, but also provide a 24-hour referral pathway and the support necessary following disclosure to GPs. I am delighted to be able to support Leeway in taking this service to GPs across Norfolk.”
More information about Leeway’s services can be found at www.leewaysupport.org.uk
Have you been a victim of domestic abuse? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436, or email firstname.lastname@example.org