Our response to the Women’s Health Strategy

Solace welcomes women’s health strategy but say its implementation must centre VAWG as a key threat to women’s physical and mental health 

We are pleased that the Department for Health and Social Care listened to specialist organisations including Solace and have included the health impacts of violence against women and girls in the women’s health strategy.

We welcome the strategy’s ambition for the health care system to take an increased role in prevention, identification and support for victims and survivors. We also welcome the recognition of the need to define and increase the use of trauma-informed practice in health settings.

The appointment of a national lead and a team to lead on domestic and sexual abuse within NHS England is positive, and we would like to see a commitment from NHS England supported by the new Health Ambassador to implement training for health staff in trauma-informed practice. 

The strategy rightly identifies the impacts of VAWG on women’s health across the life cycle but does not go far enough in embedding the recognition and response to VAWG throughout the strategy.

The expansion of women’s health hubs and ‘one stop’ clinics is for example, an opportunity to make routine enquiry into domestic abuse central to patient care. Any women’s health accreditation developed by the Government should also include the links between women’s experiences of VAWG and their health.

At the same time, it cannot be siloed into women-only services. All medical professionals need to be supported to make routine enquiries into domestic abuse and feel confident to respond appropriately, including with suspected perpetrators.

Judith Banjoko, Interim CEO said,

“Male violence against women and girls is sadly a mental and physical health impact that too many women and girls have in common across our ages and stages of our life cycles.

“Medical appointments can be one of a few opportunities that women have to be alone with someone who – with the right training and support – can spot signs of abuse and trauma and ask a question that might change or even save their life. A woman is killed by a man evert three days and tragically it is estimated a further four women a week four die by suicide related to domestic abuse.

“We therefore look forward to working with the Government, new Health Ambassador and with our local NHS services to ensure that the implementation of this strategy is seized as an opportunity to address a key threat to women’s health – abusive men.

“We also look forward to the Government’s national perpetrator strategy, which has been promised but not yet published. This strategy should include resources, support and interventions with perpetrators across the services they come into contact with just as is needed for victims and survivors.”  

For more information contact media@solacewomensaid.org

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