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Research letter
Increase in reported domestic abuse in Integrated Sexual Health (ISH) services in London and Surrey during COVID-19 ‘lockdown’: successful application of national guidance on routine enquiry during rapid transition to remote telephone consultation (telemedicine)
  1. Sophie Joanne Weller1,
  2. Daniel Tippetts2,
  3. Daniel Weston2,
  4. Robert W Aldridge3,
  5. Jane Ashby2
  1. 1 North Central and East London Foundation School, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Integrated Sexual Health & HIV, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3 UCL Public Health Data Science Research Group, Institute of Health Informatics, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sophie Joanne Weller, North Central and East London Foundation School, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, London WC1B 5DN, UK; sophie.weller{at}

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Individuals globally have experienced seismic shifts in their day-to-day lives due to measures adopted by governments to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Lockdowns’ have confined individuals to their homes, removing protective factors and access to key services. Previous public health emergencies exacerbated existing gender and intersectional inequalities1 2 and organisations warned of increased gender based violence and domestic abuse (DA).1 Such concerns have been realised with UN chief calling for action against a ‘horrifying global surge in domestic violence’.3 The UK ‘locked-down’ on 23 March 2020 and a Home Affairs Committee report described marked increases in calls to the national DA helpline,4 with escalations in violence and coercive control.4 Fourteen women and two children were reported killed by men between 23 March and 12 April, double the 3-week average.4

National guidance5 recommends routine enquiry about DA.5 Our service had successfully embedded this practice pre-COVID-19, with staff skilled at asking about DA, identifying survivors and managing disclosures safely …

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  • Contributors All authors contributed substantially to the conception of the work. DW, DT and JA were responsible for the acquisition of data. DW, RWA and SJW analysed the data. SJW wrote the article and produced the figure. DW, DT, RWA and JA contributed to manuscript preparation and revision. All authors reviewed and interpreted the results, contributed to the final editing of the manuscript and agreed to be accountable to all aspects of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.