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New health taskforce to spot signs of violence against women

A new taskforce of health professionals working together to spot early signs of violence and abuse against women and girls, was announced today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Health Secretary Alan Johnson.

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 recognises that victims may talk more freely with health professionals about their fear of violence - even when they are not ready to take the next step to reporting the crime.

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.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "Violence against women and girls is completely unacceptable and we must all see it as our duty to step in and help someone who is at risk.

"This is not limited to friends and family; as we said in our consultation document, we need a wide range of workers on the frontline to be alert to the signs of violence against women and girls and able to provide support.

"I want to make sure that vulnerable women or victims who access healthcare can also get help and advice about protecting themselves as well as information about local support services.

"That is why we need this new taskforce - violence against women and girls is a public health issue affecting the lives of thousands of NHS patients every year and we need to do all we can together to prevent violence from occurring."

Home Office