NICE issues domestic abuse guidelines to healthcare workers


Healthcare workers must ensure that patients they suspect of suffering domestic violence can be interviewed alone, and with a professional interpreter if they do not speak English, under new draft guidance issued by NICE.

As part of a major shake-up of advice on spotting domestic abuse, NICE has advised professionals to “not rely on the use of family members or friends” for interpretation and warned that victims “may have multiple abusers and friends and family may be colluding in the abuse”.

Around 1.2m women and 784,000 men aged between 16 and 59 in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in 2010/11. Almost a third of women and 17 per cent of men in England in Wales will experience it at some time in their lives, NICE said.

NICE also said it was important “that staff do not let their beliefs stop them from identifying and responding to ‘honour’ violence and abuse.’”

“Domestic violence and abuse is, sadly, more common than people might expect,” said Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE. “This new draft guidance recommends that health and social care professionals should receive training so that they can recognise the signs of domestic violence and abuse, and ensure those affected are aware of the help and support available to them.”