Northampton General Hospital is strengthening the support it gives to patients at risk of domestic abuse thanks to the creation of a new role.
Claire, an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) working forNorthamptonshire Sunflower Centre who has asked for her name to be anonymised , is now based at the hospital to offer advice and guidance to adults who have experienced domestic abuse and are at risk of injury, harm or homicide.
Claire will also introduce new training for staff to help them to recognise signs of abuse and to act safely and appropriately to signpost and support them.
One in six pregnant women will experience domestic violence
Claire will be based initially in the hospital's maternity offices working alongside the hospital’s safeguarding midwives.
NGH safeguarding midwife Emma Fathers said: "One in six pregnant women will experience domestic violence and around 30 per cent of domestic violence starts or worsens during pregnancy.
"This means our maternity team is uniquely positioned to identify women who are victims of domestic abuse and to offer support or make a child protection referral where appropriate.
"However, we have lots of other departments providing treatment and care to domestic abuse victims, most obviously our various emergencies teams but by no means limited to those.
"We also know that our ward staff sometimes witness controlling or abusive behaviours towards an individual in-patient from a relative.
"Those situations can be very difficult for any member of staff to deal with; one of the aims of this new role is to give extra support to our staff in responding to situations where we have concerns that a patient is experiencing abuse. "
The role has been created with Northamptonshire Sunflower Centre and is funded thanks to a pooled health, police, borough council and county council budget.
IDVAs work in a multi-agency context, but are independent of statutory agencies.
They provide a range of options to improve the safety of adults and their children as well as empower people to make positive changes. They offer information and support, crisis intervention, safety planning, advocacy and practical and emotional support to enable those experiencing domestic abuse to make positive changes, reduce risk and minimise the risk of repeat victimisation.