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“Huge step forward in improving responses to rape in Scotland.”

NHS Scotland has a sexual assault self-referral phone service. The dedicated national NHS service offers choices in healthcare, forensic examination and support after a rape or sexual assault.

The national service, which is to be implemented across all health boards, will allow those aged 16 and over to self-refer for a forensic health examination at a Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS), whether or not they wish to report to the police.

Funding of £11.7 million has been invested by the Scottish Government alongside the unanimous passing of Forensic Medical Services Act 2021 by Parliament. This money has gone towards creating healthcare facilities for examinations across all health boards, to recruit more specialist staff and set up a single point of contact for self-referral through NHS 24.

The sexual assault self-referral phone service can refer you to a local healthcare professional at a sexual assault response co-ordination service (SARCS). After you phone, the healthcare professional at the SARCS will phone you back to discuss and arrange your care.

Sandy Brindley, Chief Executive of Rape Crisis Scotland said:

“This is a huge step forward in improving responses to rape in Scotland. Immediately following rape or sexual assault can be a really difficult time to make a decision about whether to report what has happened to the police, but there are time limits involved in being able to capture forensic evidence. Self-referral means that if someone doesn’t feel ready to make the decision about reporting they can ensure all the evidence is captured and make the decision when they are ready.”

A media campaign has been launched to inform people about the service.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Gregor Smith said :

“The campaign will be running over the next few months to raise awareness of the Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS), to help improve the experience of those who have suffered a sexual crime.”

More information here: NHS Inform SARCS

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