More than 460 pregnant women in Leeds are thought to be experiencing domestic violence every year.
The shocking statistic released by Leeds City Council’s public health department claims Leeds midwives have identified that around four per cent of pregnant women are experiencing domestic violence annually – around 460 women a year – though it is thought that the true figure is “likely to be significantly higher”.
The figure was published as part of the Leeds Maternity Health Needs Assessment 2014, which was put before the council’s Health Scrutiny Board on Tuesday to update councillors on progress as a new five-year maternity strategy is created.
NHS Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is putting together the maternity strategy informed by the assessment as well as workshops and events with staff, service users and partners.
Jane Mischenko, lead commissioner for children and maternity services at the CCG, told the scrutiny board: “Clearly there are some city issues around inequalities that we need to address.”
The analysis also found that Leeds Addiction Unit supported 124 pregnant women in 2012/13, while national rates suggest the true number of pregnant women requiring support managing drug and alcohol use every year in Leeds is 400 to 500.
Issues around work with pregnant women with mental health difficulties and learning disabilities were also found.
Coun Lisa Mulherin, chair of the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said tackling domestic violence, supporting people through drug and alcohol issues and reducing the numbers of looked after children are strategic priorities. She said: “We know that the earlier we can intervene where there are problems, the better the outcome for mother and baby.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of domestic violence charity Women’s Aid, said making sure midwives get the right training is essential to “protect many women and children living in fear of domestic violence”.