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A pilot project to offer help to domestic abuse victims at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital has been launched by Shropshire’s leading domestic abuse agency.

The initiative – launched by West Mercia Women’s Aid – offers an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) – to patients visiting the maternity and accident and emergency departments at the hospital.

The Advisor will spend 15 hours a week working alongside healthcare professionals who will refer high risk women for help and support.

Jan Frances, Chief Executive of West Mercia Women’s Aid said: “As part of our commitment to helping victims of domestic abuse we keep up to date with research around domestic abuse provision and in particular the delivery of IDVA services across the UK.  It is clear that there are distinct advantages in positioning an Advisor in a hospital environment; indeed, previous pilots in Manchester, Bristol and London have identified that early intervention of this type has had a positive impact on reducing re-victimisation and escalation.  We saw an opportunity to work with healthcare partners in Shropshire and are delighted that we can now offer this service.”

The purpose of the pilot is to ensure that women who regularly visit A&E and are considered high risk by healthcare professionals have an opportunity to access early assistance and support from specialist domestic abuse providers. 

Research has demonstrated beyond doubt that women are at higher risk of domestic abuse when pregnant; early reporting will therefore ensure that positive intervention can take place.

The pilot will run until the end of March next year.

Jan concluded: “Our ultimate aim is to be able to submit a business case to Health commissioners for funding for the IDVA service to be made available in hospitals across West Mercia.”