Violence Makes You Ill – The First Medics Against Violence Conference

Issued: Fri, 11 Jul 2014 10:04:00 BST

On June 25th experts came together at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons to talk about violence and its consequences. The conference,  organised by Medics against Violence (MAV) and their partners in crime, the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), was attended by a diverse group of delegates from various sectors of the violence prevention, clinical and academic communities.

The conference was opened by Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingston who outlined Scotland's problem with violence but also pointed out that the situation was improving and that due to a lot of hard work on the part of Police Scotland and many partner organisations Scotland had gone from being number one in the European homicide league table in 2006 to number 17 in 2014. He stressed the need to work in partnership to deal with the wicked problem of violence.

We heard about how violence can make you physically and psychologically unwell from Mr Mark Devlin who spoke about the high incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in trauma victims and from Karyn McCluskey, Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit who also spoke about some of the innovative projects the VRU has employed to tackle the problem of violence.

 Dr Adrian Boyle from Addenbrooke's Hospital and the University of Cambridge spoke about the challenges of using Injury Surveillance in a real world setting but also about the huge benefits it can bring in terms of reducing irresponsible alcohol sales and associated violence.

 Dr Michael Murray gave an entertaining overview of Scotland's violent past but then went on to describe the ripple effect of violence on those around the victim, something he sees all too often through his work in the Neurointensive Care Unit at the Southern General Hospital.

Drs Phil Conaglen and Linda de Caestecker outlined the public health issues surrounding violence which is one of the major causes of mortality among young people from deprived communities, contributing to the inequalities gap. Linda also commented on the importance of early years intervention in terms of prevention, particularly maternal smoking during pregnancy which has been associated with an increase in violent behaviour in the offspring.

Professor Linda Thomson from Edinburgh University and the State Hospital Carstairs spoke about the psychiatric associations with violence, giving us a better understanding of the classification of psychiatric illness, particularly that associated with violent offending.

We were delighted to be joined by Paul Gray, Chief Executive of NHS Scotland, who spoke more generally about violence and invited questions from the audience on what the NHS could do to become more involved and help to improve the situation.

Lastly, the conference was closed by Dr Christine Goodall from the University of Glasgow who spoke about the various programme Medics against Violence are using to involve health in violence prevention, particularly in relation to youth violence and domestic abuse, illustrating that not only crime, but also injury due to violence were reducing.

The one theme that ran throughout the day was partnership: violence is a difficult and complex problem and one that we will only solve if organisations continue to work together.