5 June 2012

New Guidance Helps General Practices Respond to Domestic Abuse

New guidance to support GPs and their teams in recognising and responding to signs of domestic violence has been released today.

Responding to Domestic Abuse: Guidance for General Practices, is produced in collaboration with national charity Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (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.

Professor Gene Feder, RCGP Domestic Violence Co-Champion and project lead for IRIS, said: “Domestic violence is a public health concern and an RCGP clinical priority. GPs are increasingly aware of this, but many practices do not have clear care pathways for how to respond to victims. Targeted at practice managers and clinicians, this guidance supports practices to respond appropriately and safely to women and men experiencing abuse.”

“There isn’t a victim, child or perpetrator who doesn’t have a GP,” said Diana Barran, Chief Executive of CAADA. “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 includes key principles to help GPs and healthcare staff respond quickly and effectively to patients who disclose domestic abuse. These include:

  • The practice manager should build strong partnerships with local domestic abuse services and ensure domestic abuse training for the practice team.
  • The practice 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.
  • Direct referral to a domestic abuse service for further assessment of any patient disclosing abuse to a clinician should take place. 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.
  • Domestic abuse should also be addressed by the local strategic lead for the clinical commissioning group.

The guidance also includes resources to help the practice team, including a process map for responding to domestic abuse and a services directory.

Responding to Domestic Abuse: Guidance for General Practices  - can be found on Clinical Innovation & Research Centre's section of the RCGP website. www.rcgp.org.uk/circ


Amy Holgate at CAADA on 0117 3178750 or email amy.holgate@caada.org.uk

RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7574/7575/7576
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659      


This guidance complements the RCGP’s e-learning module on domestic violence which can be found here: http://elearning.rcgp.org.uk

Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) is a national charity supporting a strong multi-agency response to domestic abuse. Our work focuses on saving lives and saving public money. CAADA provides practical help to support professionals and organisations working with domestic abuse victims. The aim is to protect the highest risk victims and their children – those at risk of murder or serious harm. www.caada.org.uk

About Identification & Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS)
IRIS is a general practice-based domestic violence and abuse training support and referral programme. www.irisdomesticviolence.org.uk

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 44,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.