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Rape treatment units at risk of closure
[Posted: Fri 10/02/2006 www.irishhealth.com]
The Government has been criticised for 'failing to honour commitments made' in relation to the funding of dedicated medical services for rape and sexual assault victims.
According to Labour Party TD, Joan Burton, an unpublished report carried out on behalf of the Government has found that three of the four sexual assault treatment units (SATUs) in the country are at risk of closure, due to a lack of state funding.
"The availability of dedicated medical services in relation to rape and sexual assault is fundamental to successfully prosecuting the perpetrators. Over and over again, cases do not proceed to court because of the lack of services to compile forensic evidence in the appropriate way", Ms Burton said.
Currently, 95% of rape cases do not end in a conviction.
The four SATUs in the country are based in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, the South Infirmary Hospital in Cork, Waterford Regional Hospital and Letterkenny General Hospital.
Labour TD, Joan Burton
"Only the unit in Cork receives funding from the Department of Health and according to the report, the other three are now at crisis point and on the brink of closure, due to staffing difficulties caused by a lack of funding", Ms Burton claimed.
She pointed out that the unit in the Rotunda conducts 300 forensic examinations a year - a third of which come from outside the Dublin area. However it depends on a core group of just three doctors, one half-time nurse manager and shared nursing staff from the gynaecological unit.
The unit in Waterford Regional Hospital is the newest facility. However its funding is limited to one year, which is 'threatening the sustainability of the service and making it difficult to retain doctors'.
Meanwhile the unit in Letterkenny has had to limit its catchment area to the Donegal region due to staffing issues.
According to Ms Burton, the report notes that it 'is struggling to remain open with only two doctors providing forensic medical examination services on an ad hoc basis' and concludes that 'cessation of this much needed service seems inevitable unless immediate steps are taken to address this crisis'.
The report also highlights the difficulties faced by victims of sexual assault who do not live near a SATU. It recommends that new units be set up in Galway and the Midlands.
"Reporting rates for sexual assaults are lowest in the areas that do not have a SATU and this seems to be linked to the fact that victims in these areas must either turn to a GP or make a four to six hour car journey for a forensic examination in order to report the crime. In Some areas, there are no GPs trained to carry out forensic examinations", Ms Burton said.
The report also criticised existing facilities in Garda stations for victims who are making statements. It recommended that the Health Service Executive provide a dedicated interview room in each region.
"The Health Minister must intervene to ensure that the existing SATUs receive the funding that they need and that new funding is allocated to provide services in the Midlands and Galway", Ms Burton added.
|silentcry Posted: 11/02/2006 00:22|
|i believe the government doesn't want to knowhear about sexual assaults because then they would have to put the cash in to help the victims. But if a golf club was threatened with closure sure any cash it needed would be ploughed in to keep the place open for the tourists. Tourists make cssh for the government, victims of sexual asssaults and other crimes need help and do not make money for this government. This government takes all, and gives very little back to those that need it!.|
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