Dr Rosie Riley set up VITA five years ago. She explains: “I work between General Practice and the Emergency Department and regularly see patients that are trafficked or potentially trafficked. This might be a 52-year-old homeless male victim of labour and financial exploitation, a 16-year-old victim of county lines and child criminal exploitation, a 38-year-old fruit picker controlled with debt bondage or a 24-year-old from Albania, trafficked to the UK for sexual exploitation.
“Modern slavery and human trafficking is such an unknown within the health service. Research shows that we don’t have effective training, we don’t know what red flags to look for, we don’t know about the scale, but much more importantly we don’t know what to do when someone is sitting in front of us. What do I say, what do I not say, how do I get this accompanying person out of the room without them knowing I want to speak to the patient alone?
“The first five years of VITA’s journey were quite lonely ones. I wanted to provide effective and practical training that equipped front line healthcare professionals with transferable consultation skills to identify, support, and safeguard victims and survivors. Without knowing anyone else in the sector, I made my way through GP surgeries and Emergency Departments and was regularly reminded by seniors and consultants how necessary this work was. Colleagues would say “this should be mandatory” or “all staff should receive this training” yet no funding was provided, nor extra manpower. I was close to burnout, acutely aware of the unsustainable nature of my methodology of trying to effect this change in the health sector.
“However, three years ago, I began meeting colleagues passionate about the same things. I finally felt like I wasn’t alone. Now, with a Training Lead and a team of trainers, facilitators and actors, VITA Training has been commissioned for thousands of doctors and healthcare professionals across the UK.
"We're working with a national organisation to deliver training to 1,500 GPs in the Midlands; we are working with the Physician Response Unit at the Royal London developing training for emergency response teams including all paramedics, and our VITA paediatricians are working closely with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to develop guidelines for all children doctors and health professionals with plans to develop VITA training specifically focusing on safeguarding of children and young people.”
Jane Hunt, GP and Lead Doctor within the Helen Bamber Foundation said: “I’ve worked in this field for many years and long felt the need for a platform like this to connect with others, share learning and develop gold standard practices”.
Rosie concludes: “We want the VITA Network to be a platform for all healthcare professionals. Our aim is to connect individuals and organisations, equip each other through sharing of knowledge, skills and resources, and mobilise those workforces to transform modern slavery prevention, intervention and survivor-care.
"Connecting as individuals in this sector breaks that feeling of isolation. Even if you’re the only one pushing for change in your region, you can be part of a bigger community. We can share about the work we’re doing, recognise examples of best practice and learn from and be led by those with lived experience.”
If you would like to book training for your team, department or Trust email email@example.com