Somerset

Somerset A&E plan to help domestic abuse victims

Yeovil District Hospital Image copyright Yeovil district hospital
Image caption A team of four advisers will work with A&E staff at Yeovil District Hospital and Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital

Domestic abuse experts are to be based in hospital A&E units in Somerset to identify and give support to victims.

A team of four advisers will work with staff at Yeovil District Hospital and Taunton's Musgrove Park, as well as GPs, paramedics and pharmacists.

The scheme aims to identify and help victims as well as train staff to spot signs of abuse, Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said.

She said the team will make a "fundamental difference".

Somerset County Council estimates that 8,000 women in the county are experiencing domestic abuse.

By basing advisers where victims are treated, it is hoped a "particularly vulnerable" group can be helped.

"When someone comes to the police, they sometimes will have made the decision to leave their abuser," said Ms Mountstevens.

"If they come into hospital they are a much more vulnerable group because they still may be living with their perpetrator."

Image caption Somerset County Council estimates that 8,000 women in the county are experiencing domestic abuse

According to Sonia Furzland from Knightstone Housing - the council's domestic abuse services provider, most victims "experience 35 assaults" before they go to the police.

"Over that period it's quite likely they will have come into contact with NHS services," she said.

"So we're trying to provide an opportunity for people to get help when they need it."

'Screaming in agony'

One woman, who suffered years of abuse at the hands of her partner, said it was a "shame it hasn't come sooner".

"The first time I had to go to hospital he pushed me and I smashed into a wooden futon bed," she said.

"I was screaming in agony, paramedics came but he staged it and told them I'd tripped over a shoe."

She said ambulance paramedics "didn't question it" and hospital staff accepted the story as "true".

"I don't know if I would have told them but I think, maybe, I would have done. And it could have been stopped."

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites