A NEW service to help victims of domestic abuse is to be set up in Bolton.

It comes as new figures show there are an estimated 8,000 people affected in Bolton every year by violence in their homes — but just 1,500 domestic abuse crimes are reported to police.

Council leaders have commissioned the project to try to stop vulnerable people ending up in hospital, as research shows victims of a violent or abusive relationship usually seek help from their GP in the first instance.

This may be the first and only contact with health care professionals — so the new scheme will see two specialist domestic abuse workers link with Bolton’s 25 GP practices to help doctors and nurses spot the signs early on and make sure victims get the right treatment.

Any requests for help at GP surgeries will be completed confidentially, and will not be reported to the police.

Domestic abuse crimes cost the NHS in Bolton £8.2 million a year.

A council spokesman said they will ask a voluntary or community organisation to deliver the specialist domestic violence support service, which will be funded from the budget of GMP’s police and crime commissioner.

The spokeman added: “Many incidents of domestic violence go unreported to the police, but national research shows that 80 per cent of women in a violent relationship seek help from health services, usually GPs at least once.

“This approach has already been trialled in other parts of the country and has been very successful.”

Dr Stephen Liversedge, clinical director for primary care and health Improvement at NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, welcomed the additional support being put in place by the council.

He added: “Victims of domestic abuse often seek help from their GP practice, where they can find confidential support and advice.

“We know that identifying and responding to domestic abuse early can have a positive impact on health, from both a physical and mental perspective.

“However, this is currently not happening for many people and it is vitally important that they get the help they need.”

  • If you have been the victim or witness to domestic abuse, or have concerns regarding a victim of domestic abuse, contact Greater Manchester Police on 999 in an emergency or GMP’s Bolton Public Protection Investigation Unit on 0161 856 5788.

For specialist help and support individuals can contact Fortalice on 01204 701846 or Victim Support on 01204 399736.