The study was set up by Mary Pillai, a Consultant Gynaecologist and Forensic Sexual Assault Examiner at Cheltenham General Hospital, and Sheila Paul, a Forensic Physician for Thames Valley Police and general practitioner, after learning from concerned colleagues that services to complainants were becoming increasingly disparate across the UK. The organisation of a forensic medical examination following a complaint of sexual assault has traditionally been a police responsibility with the main focus being the forensic element and varied attention given to the medical needs arising for complainants. There are however, other therapeutic considerations at the initial examination and subsequently, if physical and psychological sequelae are to be minimised and recovery facilitated.
The results of the study showed that complainants of sexual assault in the UK, especially children, face wide differences in forensic and medical services between SARCs and non-SARC facilities. It also revealed that there is a severe shortage of experienced doctors willing to do this work, and in many no, some areas only male doctors are available. Some areas, including those served by SARCs, have so few doctors that they cannot provide a rota, or 24/7 cover for examinations, resulting in long waits for an examination. For children identified acutely following a sexual assault there is virtually no service available.
Although there was some variation in services between SARCs, all offered better all-round services to complainants than non-SARC facilities, providing attendees with all the fore
Contact: Tina Cherrington