Wigan has become the first trust in the country to secure a permanent domestic violence advisor, who will help medics and patients in hospitals across the borough.
Known only as Bridget (for confidentiality), she becomes the first NHS-funded independent (IDVA) member of staff to work with staff on all seven WWL sites.
Head of WWL safeguarding Linda Salt said: “Other hospitals have had the use of IDVA services who have been seconded to work in hospitals using various community based models of work.
However, the WWL IDVA operates on a hospital type ‘triage and make safe’ model which has been found to be the most suited to a hospital environment.
We believe that Bridget’s role is the first of its kind in the country - and since Bridget has joined the trust, she has received a substantial number of referrals and helped victims to remain safe.”
Bridget’s position is the result of a joint pilot scheme with Wigan Council that identified that WWL patients and staff who are victims of domestic abuse would benefit if they could be provided with a rapid response regarding domestic abuse, within the hospital environment.
The aim is to keep patients safe, reduce repeat incidents and injuries therefore reduce repeat presentations to hospital, which will also help the community of Wigan where incidents of domestic abuse is above the national average.
Bridget began her career in housing where she was the only female in her team who picked up domestic abuse cases.
She said: “To now be working directly within a hospital setting is just going to help more and people who are victims of domestic violence.
“I also now work with a solicitor who provides legal advice to any of the people I look after.”
Since beginning her role, Bridget has seen 89 cases – and more men than the national average.
She said: “The national average for cases involving male victims is eight per cent, in Wigan, the average is 16 per cent. A lot of the time, the men I see are professionals who slip through the net, they’re not known to social services or police and they’re the ones that are often in need of the most help.
I can do what I can do but, the volume of work has been higher than anticipated. I’m only doing what I would want anyone to do for my mum, sister, brother or daughter if they found themselves in that position.”