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National standards planned for sex attack forensic examinations

8 February 2017

New nationwide standards are to be introduced to ensure consistent delivery of forensic medical examinations for victims of sexual violence, the Scottish Government announced today.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland has been tasked with producing the standards, which will ensure best practice is applied when examining victims following a rape or sexual assault.

The new standards will build on work already carried out by the National Coordinating Network for Forensic Medical Services, and are intended to put beyond doubt what is expected in the delivery of care for victims. They will also ensure that NHS boards are clear in the role they have to play.

The standards are expected to be rolled out before the end of 2017.

Separately, a survey issued this week aims to find out what more can be done to encourage more female doctors to get involved in this field of work. The Scottish Government and NHS Education for Scotland are working in partnership to gather information on the perceptions and concerns of female doctors.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson commented: “It is important that victims of sexual violence feel confident coming forward, knowing they are going to be supported every step of the way, including forensic examination.

“While the way evidence is gathered and recorded is a top priority for the legal process, it must be balanced with the needs of victims, who may be vulnerable and traumatised. Therefore I am pleased Healthcare Improvement Scotland are developing new national standards – an important step in ensuring a consistent and sympathetic service.

“Understandably, many sexual assault victims want to be examined by a female doctor. We are working hard to understand the barriers for woman getting involved in this area of medicine, as we seek to achieve a greater gender balance.”

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