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Chief Dental Officer - spot the signs of domestic abuse and support patients

By DTA | 18th February 2021 | News

 In her latest update, Chief Dental Officer England, Sara Hurley, draws our attention to domestic abuse and how dental teams can, and should, help survivors and victims:

'"There is never an excuse for domestic abuse, no matter what the circumstances are and during the period of national restrictions this issue is more important than ever.

Dental professionals are likely to observe and identify injuries to the head, eyes, ears, neck, face, mouth and teeth as well as other welfare concerns.

Combating domestic abuse is not just a medical mission, its a moral mission too.

Dentistry like all other areas of the NHS and healthcare must do its bit to help the patient and each other.'"

Recognising the signs of domestic abuse

Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.

Domestic abuse is not always physical violence. It can also include:

• coercive control and 'gaslighting'

• economic abuse

• online abuse

• threats and intimidation

• emotional abuse

• sexual abuse

The government's web page on spotting the signs   has a checklist on what to look out for.

Domestic abuse: the advice for the public

If you are worried that a friend, neighbour or loved one is a victim of domestic abuse then you can call the freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 and further information is on the helpline's dedicated website .

If you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, you should always call 999.

The NHS website has advice online for the public  on spotting the signs for domestic abuse and where to go for help.

The Government has a detailed web-page 'Domestic abuse: get help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak ' where you can find out how to get help if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse. In particular, the government pages have translated guidance, welfare benefits and housing advice as well as advice on how to get legal help.

The pages also give details on the domestic abuse code-word scheme. If someone is experiencing domestic abuse and needs immediate help, they can ask for 'ANI' in a participating pharmacy. 'ANI' stands for Action Needed Immediately but also phonetically sounds like the name Annie. If a pharmacy has the 'Ask for ANI' logo on display, it means they're ready to help.

They will offer the person a private space, provide a phone and ask if they need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.

You can download a campaign poster here.

You will find more useful information and resources for dental professionals to support patients and colleagues on domestic abuse in the latest NHS bulletin .

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