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Health / Health board to use funding to support victims of sexual crimes

NHS Shetland says it intends to use a pot of new Scottish Government funding to ensure it has medical and nursing staff available to provide care and trauma support for victims of sexual assault in Shetland.

The government has confirmed that £8.5 million will be available to health boards in Scotland over the next three years to support victims of rape and sexual assault.

Around £2.5 million of that is being given out this financial year to recruit staff, provide training and create facilities.

NHS Shetland’s director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan said the health board, in collaboration with partner organisations, has had a “clear pathway” in place since February to support people in Shetland who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

“That includes putting in place a facility at the Gilbert Bain Hospital which is a quiet and private space where an examination can take place and support can be provided,” she said.

“We have a number of staff who have completed specific training in trauma support and recovery and there are more staff who will be trained early next year.

“The Scottish Government funding will be used to ensure we have both medical and nursing staff available who have the necessary training to provide medical care and trauma support in Shetland.”

The issue of forensic testing of people who had been sexually assaulted was brought into focus last year following criticism that islanders had to travel to the mainland for tests alongside police.

Funding was later offered by the Scottish Government for training in a bid to see more medical staff qualified to carry out examinations on-island.

“The impact of sexual abuse can have a devastating impact on a person’s life and so we want to ensure that we can offer the right emotional, psychological and physical support in Shetland,” Carolan added.

“That is why we are working closely with NHS Grampian to ensure that we can provide forensic medical input as needed and reduce the need for people to travel to specialist centres on the mainland and building the good links we already have with Shetland Rape Crisis.”