Improvement in practice: The IRIS case study Implementing a successful primary care domestic violence service: Early experiences

February 2011


Key points

  • There has been rapid acceptance of the IRIS implementation plan in Bristol.
  • In Hackney, east London, an initial lack of a local champion and funding has meant that implementation has been slower.
  • Ten other regions are showing interest in adopting the IRIS programme.
  • A number of key lessons were identifed, including the need to identify a 'commissioning champion', making a strong economic case for the programme and delivering on promises.

Domestic violence is a major public health issue, and a risk factor for chronic ill health and premature death in women. Nevertheless, in primary care it is under-recognised and under-treated.

A training and support programme called Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) is working to change this. The results from the first stage of the programme show a marked increase in referral to specialist domestic violence services, and significant improvement in the identification of women experiencing domestic violence.

This case study is of a programme which provided staff training and a support programme to bridge the gap between the voluntary sector and primary care, to harness the strengths of each, and to provide an improved domestic violence service.  

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