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Women who have experienced domestic abuse and sexual assault are being urged to contact the NHS for support, as the number of people seeking help halved during the first lockdown.
Following the death of Sarah Everard and the outpouring from women sharing their experiences of assault and harassment, both in the home and in public, the NHS is calling for anyone who needs assistance to come forward.
Senior NHS leaders have also written out reminding staff how to spot signs a patient may have experienced abuse or assault and what support is available.
The move comes after the number of people receiving help from NHS Sexual Assault Referral clinics (SARCs) halved after the first lockdown compared with the previous year despite official figures showing that domestic abuse and sexual assault increased.
The specialist clinics offer people who have been raped or assaulted a range of help including medical examinations, emergency contraception, emotional support and pregnancy testing. The clinics are run by specially trained NHS doctors, nurses and support workers who can provide the appropriate care for victims.
Kate Davies, the NHS director of sexual assault services commissioning, said:
'This is a key moment in time in the fight against domestic abuse and sexual assault, and NHS England is playing its part in helping victims get the help they deserve.'
'All organisations have a role to play in preventing violence against women, including the NHS, which is why today, myself and other senior NHS staff have written to all regional directors and leads to remind them of advice to NHS staff and how to spot signs of domestic abuse and the services that are available to help women and prevent further harm.'