Pregnant women are to be routinely asked by doctors and midwives if they have been beaten up by their partners in a new drive to tackle domestic violence. The move follows evidence that women are more vulnerable to domestic violence during pregnancy. Melanie Johnson, the Public Health minister, will announce plans today for questions to be put to women during their first NHS ante-natal visits.
The initiative means that health service professionals will play a vital role in rooting out hidden domestic violence. At NHS appointments during the early stages of pregnancy, such as for foetal scans, they will inquire whether women are being abused. Sufferers will be referred to appropriate support and counselling services or the police if it emerges that they need protection or want charges to be pressed.