Doctors join in crackdown on domestic abuse

TEAMWORK: Denise Ogden (left) and Lesley Gibson
TEAMWORK: Denise Ogden (left) and Lesley Gibson

CAMPAIGNERS against domestic violence are teaming up with GPs in Hartlepool to help crack down on abuse.

Hartlepool-based organisation Harbour Support Services is setting up training for primary care staff.

The aim is to provide training in dealing with domestic abuse, as well as a support and referral programme.

Organisers want to ensure there is early intervention 
for patients who are either 
experiencing domestic 
abuse or have suffered it in the past.

As well as help for abuse victims, the scheme will support the perpetrators of the abuse.

Harbour chief executive Lesley Gibson said: “This is a way of trying to ensure that victims, or perpetrators, appreciate that they can turn to their GP and their GP will know where to signpost them to.”

She described the scheme as “exciting” and said the initiative was based on a model which had worked in another part of the country.

Harbour wants to target patients aged 16 years plus. The benefits include identifying women who are experiencing domestic abuse sooner and making referrals to a domestic abuse agency, which saves on repeat visits to health workers.

A Harbour spokesman said: “We are aiming to raise awareness of domestic abuse among GP staff, improving support for victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse, improving links with agencies and raising awareness of other services provided.”

Organisers also want to set up a session which GPs could attend in Hartlepool.

As well as supporting victims and cutting down on repeat visits needed by other agencies, the focus of the programme is to “ensure victims are safeguarded by ensuring they receive the best support possible and as early as possible”.

Harbour is working in partnership with Denise Ogden, who is the chairman of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership Domestic Violence & Abuse group. The partnership is also funding the programme.

She said: “Harbour Support Services are a key partner of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership in supporting victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

“They provide a refuge, outreach service and also are in the process of working with GPs to recognise the symptoms of domestic violence when a patient presents themselves.”