Headlines: September 14th, 2009

People working in the health service and other public sector professionals are being asked for their views on how the NHS can improve its services for women and girls who have been victims of violence and sexual assault. They have a month to contribute to a consultation organised by the Taskforce on the health aspects of violence against women and girls.

The Health Minister, Ann Keen, said: “We know that victims of violence can find it easier to seek help from trusted health professionals and that is why we want health and public sector professionals to tell us what they think of the service provided by the NHS and how it might be improved.”

They are being invited to express their opinions on three key areas. Firstly, service delivery, including early identification of problems, access to healthcare services, staff awareness and attitudes and maximising NHS resources. The second issue is service commissioning, specifically the assessment of needs, NHS and joint commissioning and buying services from non-NHS providers. Finally they are being asked for comments on partnership working, including information sharing, service level agreements and protocols and collaborative service delivery.

Figures show that each year 3 million women in Britain experience violence, which may take the form of including domestic abuse, sexual violence, forced marriage and trafficking. Ann Keen said the consultation was an important part of the Government’s action to combat the problem and added: “This will form a valuable contribution to a cross Government strategy, to be published later this year, which aims to ensure that all frontline services work closely together to reduce violence against women and girls and provide the best possible support to victims.”

Health and public sector professionals have until October 14th to register their views at www.dh.gov.uk/vawg