A SIGNIFICANT change to the way people in the region can access support following a sexual assault is delivering encouraging results – one year on from its launch.
Anyone can now refer themselves directly into the Sexual Assault Referral Centre which is operated by NHS Dumfries and Galloway, instead of first going through the police or another agency.
Dr Soosan Romel is Clinical Lead for Sexual Health, and she said: “We’re extremely encouraged by how the new self-referral system has been working since we launched it one year ago.
“If anyone has experienced a sexual assault, we want to ensure they can access the support available from the region’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre in a way that works best for them.
“This approach means that people have a choice in how they access the informed care which the service can provide. While the police will still make referrals for people who come to them in the first instance, the self-referral service gives people the option to come to see us directly.
“Help for someone of any gender can be provided from within our team of highly-trained clinicians. In addition to providing informed care and help with access to treatment, they are also able to collect and store evidence for up to 26 months.
“Singposting can be provided to Rape Crisis, and local follow-up support is offered by a Sexual Health Nurse.
“It’s also very important to stress that confidentiality is paramount, and that the centre is a safe space for everyone.”
The Sexual Assault Referral Centre is a service which runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is housed in a purpose-built location within the grounds of Mountainhall Treatment Centre on Bankend Road in Dumfries.
The centre is designed as a safe space which can help ensure privacy, with its own dedicated car park, discrete entry and rooms designed with learning drawn from trauma-informed care.
Soosan said: “We want the Sexual Assault Referral Centre to be the best environment it can be, with services designed to provide people with options.
“The feedback we have received via the self-referral service over the past year really does support our moves to introduce this option.
“We are currently looking at how we can further develop the service being offered, particularly around addressing accessibility for adolescents who currently are required to travel outwith the region.
“Anyone can self-refer to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre by visiting the website www.nhsinform.scot. Information is available under the ‘turn to SARCS’ heading.
Alternatively, anyone can telephone 0800 148 88 88 at any time, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
They can also ask for the centre when calling the local NHS number 01387 246246.”