Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, who support women and children affected by domestic violence, rape and sexual assault describe the importance of the flagship Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) programme:
25 November 2018 marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the 16 days of action to raise awareness of the issue.
So, what is the NHS’s response to gender-based violence?
Locally, Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid run the IRIS programme, a flagship intervention working within primary care to change and improve clinical practice, and provide
patients affected by domestic abuse with access to specialist advice and support.
The IRIS programme is being rolled out to train and support the 171 GP practices across Birmingham and Solihull. GPs, practice nurses and other primary care clinicians will be trained to help them identify and refer women with experience of domestic violence and abuse, to specialist domestic violence services. It also provides information and signposting for male victims and perpetrators.
The service is a collaboration between primary care and third sector organisations specialising in domestic violence and abuse. An advocate educator, based in a local specialist domestic violence and abuse service, is linked to general practices and works in partnership with the local clinical lead to co-deliver the training to those practices. She also supports patients referred from those practices.
Nearly half of the practices in Birmingham and Solihull have already benefitted from IRIS training, which equips GPs and other general practice clinicians with the knowledge and confidence to ask patients sensitively about domestic abuse.
Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid is involved with a number of local schemes and initiatives. Recently it had an event with local hair salon Hazel and Hadyn in the Jewellery Quarter, which gave ladies who access Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid’s services, a complimentary haircut and makeover.
Between July and Sept 2018, GPs referred 97 women patients to Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid for support. The referral figures are rising rapidly as more practices become trained and domestic violence aware. In October there were 52 referrals in this month alone.
If you require advice or help regarding issues of violence against women and girls, then you can call the BSWA helpline on 0808 800 0028.