Over £2m to provide forensic services for sexual assault victims
A new national standard for forensic medical examinations for those who have experienced rape or sexual assault is to be instated, backed by £2.25 million funding to help NHS Boards implement them.
This comes as welcome news to Orkney Rape Crisis (ORC), who have long campaigned for an on-island forensic service in the county.
At present, if a person in Orkney reports an incident of sexual violence within the given timeframe for forensic testing, they have no choice but to board the public flight to Aberdeen — possibly with a police escort — to be examined by a professional.
Now, the new standards, published by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), will ensure that victims will experience a level of care to a high standard that aims to reduce the likelihood of further trauma.
“We know the immediate and long-term physical and psychological consequences of rape can be considerable and we are aware that current services for rape victims may not always be focused on their needs,” explained Scottish justice secretary, Michael Matheson, who has pushed for these changes to be made.
“These standards will ensure consistency in approach to healthcare and forensic medical services and will reinforce the high-quality care anyone should expect after experiencing rape or sexual assault.
“It is our ambition to ensure that person-centred care is provided across both the health and justice system for victims, and improving forensic medical examinations is an important step in this work”
Zelda Bradley, support and development manager at ORC is pleased to see these new standards being set, along with additional funding for their implementation.
“There is the potential here to transform the support received after a rape or sexual assault,” she said.
“We welcome £2.25 million funding to help NHS Boards implement the new standards which should ensure a consistent service across Scotland, including the isles. Orkney Rape Crisis looks forward to working in partnership with NHS Orkney and other agencies, in the new year, to develop a local forensic service for Orkney.“