Having raised the issue on behalf of a constituent, Kenneth Gibson MSP has welcomed the SNP Government’s plans to improve healthcare outcomes for victims of sexual violence.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland has published Scotland’s first national standards for forensic medical examinations, to ensure that victims will experience high-quality care that aims to reduce the likelihood of further trauma, regardless of age, personal circumstances or geographical location.
The standards will be backed by £2.25 million funding to help NHS Boards implement them, demonstrating the SNP Government’s commitment to providing person-centred care across both the health and justice system for victims.
NHS Education for Scotland has also been commissioned to provide portable education and trauma-informed training with the aim of increasing the number of female physicians in particular, able to undertake forensic medical examinations. NHS Education for Scotland has also been funded to provide peer support, mentoring and continuous professional development for those new to the service, as well as experienced forensic physicians already undertaking this work.
Around 11% of adults in Scotland have experienced at least one form of sexual assault since the age of 16 and the NHS is responsible for delivering healthcare services for victims.
In a written response to a question from Mr Gibson, Cabinet Secretary Health for Shona Robison MSP replied:
“These widely available standards are an important step toward ensuring that, working in collaboration with partner agencies, consistent high quality trauma informed care is provided by Health Boards throughout Scotland. Standardising the quality of care offered will further ensure the timely collection of high quality evidence to support any criminal justice proceedings.
“The Taskforce for the improvement of services for adults and children who have experienced rape and sexual assault, established by the Scottish Government, and chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, has set out key priorities areas for delivery within its five year work plan. These include developing the Quality Indicators which will underpin the standards and the development of clinical pathways and guidance to clinical practitioners delivering these services.”
Kenneth Gibson added:
“The impact that sexual assault can have on a person’s wellbeing cannot be underestimated and it is vital that all victims receive healthcare that is sensitive to their needs. From dental appointments, to maternity care, to cervical cancer screening, all healthcare staff must be fully equipped to provide a patient-centred approach.
“I am glad that the SNP Government takes this matter seriously and providing the NHS with the structural and financial support it needs to fully support victims throughout the care process.”