A Woman Raped Every Ten Minutes

Each week 1,000 women are subjected to rape or attempted rape, while one in four women have been affected by domestic violence.

To help tackle the problem, Public Health Minister Anne Milton has launched an action plan to improve services for women and child victims of violence and announced up to £3.2 million to improve and expand Sexual Assault Referral Centres.

Commenting on the launch, Anne Milton said: "For many victims, doctors and nurses are the first or only person they can turn to. It's critical that health professionals have the skills to identify victims of violence and offer appropriate support.

"I've seen excellent work in specialist centres, so we're making more money available to improve and expand them. Women and children can then be referred to the right services. For some, there may be only one chance to save a life."

The Minister launched the Department of Health's action plan, which responds to the work of the Taskforce on Violence Against Women and Children, at a visit to NHS Barking and Dagenham. She also went to a refuge, where she met staff and spoke to victims of violence about their experience of the service.

The Taskforce identified how the NHS response can be improved. The action plan includes:
  • How local areas can improve communications activity to raise awareness with the public, patients and staff.

  • Workforce, education and training, including working with the Royal Colleges and other organisations to see where training needs to be improved or expanded.

  • Improving the quality of services, such as providing joint funding with the Home Office in 2010/11 of up to £3.2 million to improve quality of and access to Sexual Assault Referral Centres.

  • Strengthening evidence and information, including looking at how emergency departments can share non-confidential information relating to violent assaults.
Melanie Walker, Chair of the NHS Implementation Group on Violence Against Women and Children, said: "Violence and abuse against women and children is such a big issue in the NHS that we must ensure that we commission appropriate services for our patients. Voluntary sector specialist services provide valuable support and it's important to recognise their contribution.

"To make sure there are specialist skills to meet the needs of patients, particularly those who have experienced sexual assault, improvements are being made in forensic medical care. I am pleased to announce the first five doctors to undertake the new Diploma in Forensic and Clinical Aspects of Sexual Violence have now successfully completed their examination."

Violence and abuse against women and children is a pan government challenge. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, made a cross-Government statement on Violence Against Women and Girls today. She called on families, communities, charities, local authorities, the police and the NHS to work together to stop senseless crimes against women and girls.


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