Whole Health London

Whole Health London is a three-year project funded by the City Bridge Trust, the funding arm of The City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates, which ran from July 2020 to June 2023. The project maps the domestic abuse response within health settings in the capital and makes recommendations for the most effective means of securing a whole-health response which truly meets the needs of all victims and survivors.

  • Only 1 in 5

    people experiencing abuse ever calls the police but victims will be accessing health services every day

  • Over £2 billion per year

    is the estimated cost of domestic abuse to health services

London is a leader in health-based domestic abuse innovation, with significant recent investment in the capital, notably through the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) in primary care settings and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC)’s uplift funding for Independent domestic violence advisors (Idvas) in hospital settings. However, gaps remain in provision across London and we know there is more to do improve the response to survivors of domestic abuse to get them safer sooner, as well as to reduce the costs of a crisis response at a later stage.

Read the Whole Health London report: We only do bones here

Key findings

  • Domestic abuse has a devastating effect on the health and wellbeing of victims and families, and costs society £66 billion per year – of which more than £2 billion is borne by health services.
  • We estimate that 241,000 women and 120,000 men experienced domestic abuse in the past year in London, on the basis of Crime Survey of England and Wales estimates that 7.3 per cent of women aged 16-64 and 3.6 per cent of men in the same age bracket experienced domestic abuse between March 2019 and March 2020.
  • 425,480 children and young people in London will have experienced domestic abuse by the time they are an adult.
  • We estimate there are around 45,750 female survivors of domestic abuse working for the NHS just in London.
  • We estimate around 88,000 Londoners received medical attention following partner abuse in the last 12 months.
  • The estimated health service costs of domestic abuse in London equals £433 million per year.
  • One in ten offences recorded by the Metropolitan Police involves domestic abuse.
  • Only one in five people experiencing abuse ever calls the police but victims will be accessing every hospital, GP surgery and mental health setting every day, while children and their parents will be being supported every day in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), health visiting services and by school nurses.

For the full findings and further details, see the full report ‘We Only Do Bones Here’.

I had so many medical and mental health issues because of the abuse. It was all documented but never was I asked or signposted. Only when I fled I told my GP, his reply was ‘why didn’t you just leave?'

Survivor, Havering

Domestic abuse has a profound impact on our physical and mental health. It is vital that health services are an active part of the solution to give victims the help they so urgently need.

The Whole Health London project builds on the findings of the Pathfinder Project, which sought to embed a ‘whole health’ approach to domestic abuse in eight sites across England.

We are calling for a ‘whole health’ approach to create better provision for survivors in all health settings, across all London boroughs. This strategy will mean over-stretched healthcare professionals will receive the support they need to adequately help victims, and victims won’t face a postcode lottery when it comes to accessing services.

Play video

Watch: Whole Health London report launch

Re-watch our Whole Health London report launch and key findings presentation. Date: 31st March 2021.

Speakers included:

  • R – a survivor of domestic abuse and migrant woman who had to navigate the healthcare system
  • Meena Patel, Development and Finance Manager at Southall Black Sisters
  • Medina Johnson, CEO of IRISi
  • Whole Health London report authors – Jess Asato, former SafeLives Head of Public Affairs and Policy, and Verona Blackford, former SafeLives Public Affairs and Policy Officer

You can also download the slide deck, chat transcript and the event Q&A.

More on domestic abuse and health


A national project to transform healthcare's response to domestic violence and abuse by ensuring a coordinated and consistent approach across the health system.
Hands typing on a laptop on a desk with a stethoscope in the foreground


Research and resources for healthcare professionals to improve the response to supporting victims of domestic abuse.

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