Leading Royal Colleges call to end scourge of domestic violence

on 25 November 2020 NHS Staff Maternity Services Midwifery Safety Covid-19 Domestic Abuse

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), have today issued a call to end the ‘scourge’ of domestic abuse in the UK, which affects a quarter of women and is more likely to begin and worsen during pregnancy. The two Colleges are putting forward several recommendations to tackle this terrible problem and have published guidance for midwives and other health professionals.   

Pushing forward their recommendations the Colleges call for sustainable funding for specialist training for health professionals and funded specialist mental health support for survivors. They also say all health services need to commit strategically to respond to domestic abuse, and for health settings to have independent Domestic Abuse Advisors.  

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“Pregnant women have been especially vulnerable to domestic violence and abuse during this pandemic, they need to be more than just another grim statistic. Midwives are in a unique position to support pregnant women to access the help and support they need. While the pandemic has made that more challenging in some circumstances, we are calling on maternity colleagues to work collaboratively to identify and support women at risk, and on the UK governments to ensure services are properly and sustainably funded so that women can keep themselves and their baby safe.” 

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: 

"Healthcare professionals can play a crucial role in tackling a crisis which has spiralled during the pandemic.  

“What’s even more important is that healthcare professionals keep an open mind when speaking to patients and don’t overlook anyone because they don’t ‘look’ like someone experiencing abuse. Abuse can happen to anyone. 

“The pandemic has meant that many appointments are now done by video call or over the phone, making it more difficult for healthcare professionals to spot the signs of domestic violence or provide a safe space for women to discuss what’s happening to them. That’s why now, more than ever before, we urgently need action to address domestic abuse.” 

“We’re calling on the government to provide specific funding for NHS Trusts to improve their response to violence by making sure there’s a co-ordinated and consistent approach across the health system. That way health services can work with local domestic abuse services to respond safely, and better support the women they come in contact with.” 

You can read the RCOG/RCM statement on domestic abuse here


Notes to editors

The RCM’s guidance on Identifying, caring for and supporting women at risk of/victims of domestic abuse during COVID-19 can be read at https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/4438/domestic-abuse-covid-short-guidance-on-template-final-v22.pdf

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. https://www.rcog.org.uk/ .