Health and Care Bill briefing

This resource is a briefing document on SafeLives’ recommendations for the Health and Care Bill (October 2021) regarding health-based Idvas.

SafeLives recommends the Health and Care Bill enshrines in law the NHS England 2019 Commitment to make health-based Idvas (independent domestic violence advisors) integral to every NHS Trust Domestic Violence and Abuse Action Plan.

In the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill (July 2019), Paragraph 167 noted that “From April 2020, NHS England are planning for Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) to be integral to every NHS Trust Domestic Violence and Abuse Action Plan, as part of the NHS Standard Contract.”

That commitment has yet to be achieved, and the wording was later removed from the Domestic Abuse Act.

We strongly recommend that the commitment to health Idvas be reaffirmed and included in the Health and Care Bill to ensure that more victims of domestic abuse can access support earlier, vital opportunities to identify risk and intervene aren’t missed, and NHS staff feel supported to enquire about domestic abuse and refer patients on to the specialist support they need. We know health settings are one of the first places people are likely to disclose domestic abuse, and there is a strong evidence base showing Idvas have a cost-effective positive impact on victims and survivors.

  • 9 out of 10

    victims reported improvements in their safety

    following an intervention by a hospital Idva

  • 23%

    of victims at the highest risk went to A&E

    because of their injuries

Our research has found that health-based Idvas

  • support vulnerable victims including those who have mental health needs, or are pregnant
  • support victims who face barriers in getting help, such as older or LGBT+ victims of domestic abuse
  • have access to victims during a key ‘window of opportunity’
  • can help health services to meet their domestic abuse obligations
  • can help to reduce future health costs
  • can provide support to NHS staff experiencing abuse

This briefing includes SafeLives’ recommendation for the Health and Care Bill, as well as background and supporting evidence for the recommendation.

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