Launched on Monday, the RCGP guidance outlines key principles to help GPs to respond quickly and effectively to patients who disclose domestic abuse.
Responding to domestic abuse: guidance for general practices, was produced in collaboration with national charity Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA), the Identification & Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) programme and was funded by the DH.
It advises practices to set up a domestic abuse care pathway and to identify a local designated person who will be responsible for the initial assessment of victims.
If a patient discloses abuse to a GP, a direct referral to a domestic abuse service must take place. Where the practice nurse, or another health professional, has additional domestic abuse training, practices can create an internal referral route for specialist assessment.
The guidance said that practice managers should build a strong relationship with local domestic abuse services and arrange domestic abuse training for the whole practice team.
Clinical and non-clinical staff should be trained in how to recognise the signs of domestic abuse, how to enquire sensitively and safely, the importance of confidentiality and the practice’s process for responding to disclosure, the guidance said.
The local strategic lead for the clinical commissioning group should also address domestic abuse.
RCGP domestic violence co-champion Professor Gene Feder 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.’
Chief executive of CAADA Diana Barran said: ‘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 a process map for responding to domestic abuse and a services directory.