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More sexual assault units needed
[Posted: Wed 21/06/2006 www.irishhealth.com]
By Deborah Condon
A national review of sexual assault treatment units (SATUs) has recommended the establishment of two new units, one in Galway and the other in the Midlands.
However launching the review yesterday, the Government failed to guarantee that funding for these units would be made available.
There are currently four SATUs in Ireland. They are located in Dublin's Rotunda Hospital, the South Infirmary Hospital in Cork, Waterford Regional Hospital and Letterkenny General Hospital.
The review noted that there are no dedicated SATU services in the Mid Western, Western, Midland or North Eastern HSE regions.
"Victims from these regions are therefore dependent on ad hoc arrangements, where there are often long delays between the time the crime is reported to the Gardai and the carrying out of a forensic medical examination. In failing to identify a local GP who is available to carry out the examination, the Gardai are frequently required to transport victims to a designated SATU elsewhere, often taking 12 hours or more to make the round trip", the review said.
Commenting on this specific recommendation, Junior Health Minister, Sean Power and Junior Justice Minister, Frank Fahey, said that the HSE 'is currently examining this proposal with a view to securing funding in 2007'.
However responding to this, the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI) expressed its frustration and 'deep disappointment' with the Government's apparent lack of commitment.
"It was with deep regret that we learnt at the launch of the review that there was no financial or resource commitment from the Government in advancing the recommendations. This lethargic approach to issues of providing adequately for victims of sexual violence within the criminal justice system is all too familiar", said RCNI executive director, Fiona Neary.
In fact, the review highlighted the fact that the reporting of sexual assaults to the Gardai was 'particularly low' in the HSE Western and Midland regions.
"This finding suggests that the lack of dedicated services in these regions acts as a deterrent to victims reporting to the Gardai", it said.
The review also recommended the introduction of a pilot programme in forensic nursing, which would see nurses undergoing a higher diploma in order to qualify as a clinical nurse specialist in forensic nursing.
According to Junior Ministers Power and Fahey, 'the HSE is actively engaged in developing this proposal an is currently costing the numerous aspects to it'.
Other recommendations included:
-The establishment of a dedicated interview room in a Garda station in each HSE region, which would be used exclusively for victims of sexual crime.
-The development of a professional accredited training programme for doctors on the treatment of rape/sexual assault, medico-legal documentation, court room appearances and the psychological consequences of sexual assault.
-A conference on the issues of rape and sexual assault should be held twice a year.
"The full budget implications of the review are estimated at €2, 815,612, a relatively low price to pay to meet the basic rights to care and due process of victims", Ms Neary said.
She added that the RCNI was now seeking clarification on whether funding would actually be made available for two new SATUs in 2007.
|Mary Posted: 22/06/2006 10:57|
|It's so sad that this is not being appropriately tackled. So much more needs to be done.|
|Daniel(ZFS48668) Posted: 27/06/2006 20:09|
|My name is Daniel J. Sheridan, PhD, RN, FAAN. I am the President of the International Association of Forensic Nurses and an Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. I have created a Master's Degree Program leading to one becoming a Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialist. In the United States the majority of all adult (age 13 and older) forensic exams of reported sexual assualt patients are being conducted by registered nurses who have completed a minumum of 40 hours of classroom and 40 hours of supervised clinical training. I would very much enjoy talking with nurses and physicians in Ireland about using specially trained nurses to perform forensic sexual assault exams. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org My telephone number is 410-614-5301. The web address for the International Association of Forensic Nurses is www.iafn.org Thank you. Dr. Sheridan|
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