Women who have experienced violence or sexual violence, or have been in touch with the criminal justice system, were invited to take part in the discussion. They shared their individual journeys with us, telling us about the barriers and challenges they faced when accessing primary health care.
The discussion focused on four areas:
- registering with a GP practice
- GP consultation
- signposting and referrals
- access to other health care.
They were also encouraged to consider how these barriers could be overcome.
- Women who have been to prison, rehabilitation centres or who are fleeing domestic violence sometimes have difficulties in “holding on” to their identification documents, for example National Insurance number and proof of previous addresses. They felt the GP practice reception area was not the appropriate place to discuss why they couldn’t provide the relevant identification documents
- All the women felt that there wasn’t enough time for them to discuss how their experiences impacted on their physical and mental wellbeing
- It was agreed by all the women in the group that there is a common lack of understanding from GPs on the impact of violence against women and girls and how this can have a long-term effect on these women. The women felt let down by their GPs.
- Women were frustrated by the fact that their physical and mental health and wellbeing was seriously impacted by their experiences of violence and imprisonment.