Delay in opening sexual assault treatment unit

There will be a delay in the opening of a sexual assault treatment unit in Galway, which will also serve Mayo, a meeting of the Regional Health Forum West heard this week.

The unit, which was originally expected to open in autumn 2007, will be located on the west side of Galway city close to University Hospital Galway. It will cater for children and adult females and males.

In a motion presented at the meeting Cllr Catherine Connolly asked for immediate clarification about the current position of the proposed centre.

She said that a HSE West update of January 22 2007 outlined that plans for the development of the unit were ongoing with a view to it commencing in spring 2008. It stated that a capital plan was currently being completed and a site was being agreed. It added that a nursing staff member was completing a course in forensic nursing.

Replying to the city councillor Chris Kane, the regional co-ordinator of the Western Hospital Group, said the HSE hoped to be in a position to begin the service early next year.

She explained that in October ‘08 approval was granted to lease a building on a temporary basis for the service.

The unit will be a consultant led service which will promote multidisciplinary work involving Gardai, medical personnel, rape crisis counsellors, friends and family support.

The facility can, if needed, deal with two separate cases at the same time as it will have separate entrances, rest rooms, kitchens, en-suite overnight accommodation, interview and examination rooms available.

The facility will be medically and legally equipped to conduct interviews in cases of sexual assault and to provide treatment.

It will be based in the community rather than in a clinical setting where a victim may be recognised or in a location (eg, maternity/gynae ward or A&E ) to which the victim may have to return at other times and situations during their life.

Medical examination areas will be used for the sole purpose of conducting forensic medical examinations. Forensic cleaning will follow each examination to reduce the chance of cross contamination.

The IT system will facilitate police interviewing and medical examination to take place in the same location. It will be possible to produce and store a triple version of an interview tape, one for the defence, one for the prosecution and a third sealed tape for the sole use of the judge should the case come to trial. This requirement is not mandatory at present but is in use in Northern Ireland and the UK. The storage area for taped evidence will be fire and bomb proof.

 

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