A new taskforce of health professionals working together to spot early signs of violence and abuse against women and girls, investigate the scale of the problem and ensure victims across the NHS get the support they need, has been announced by the government.
The taskforce has been set up in response to issues raised during the Violence against Women and Girls consultation which began in March.
The government wants to make sure that health professionals are prepared to give victims of violence and abuse information about local support services. The taskforce will also look at helping health workers to identify women at risk earlier and how they can offer these women support to reduce repeat victimisation.
Professor Sir George Alberti, former national clinical director for emergency access and service design, will lead the work of the taskforce. The taskforce will comprise health professionals, NHS managers and representatives from the public, social services and voluntary sector.
Alongside this, the government also pledged to double funding for the 24-hour national domestic violence helpline, bringing total support to £1 million for this year.
Announcing the new taskforce Health Secretary, Alan Johnson said: "Almost one in three women will experience domestic violence at some point during their lives and nearly one in four will experience some form of sexual assault. This taskforce will bring together health professionals and women's organisations to help tackle violence against women and girls by responding to its early signs and supporting its victims.
"Many women who have suffered violence and abuse turn to GPs and A&E for support and treatment - the taskforce will help us to ensure that all NHS staff are trained to care for women and girls and help prevent further abuse.
"We are also continuing to support the National Domestic Violence helpline for women so they can safely get the help they need at any time."