Mental Health

05.06.18

Sexual assault survivors to receive lifetime of NHS support

Victims of sexual abuse will be able to receive a lifetime of mental health care, NHS England has announced.

The plans come as part of a five year strategy to deliver a new package of sexual abuse and assault care across England, backed by a £4m a year investment until 2020-21.

Sexual Assault Referral Centres integrated across community services and improved provision for men are also included in the strategy.

Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price recently visited senior NHS staff at the Havens, a leading treatment and support centre and a model of new services to be rolled out across the country from this year, run by King’s College Hospital.

In the year ending September 2017, there were 138,045 recorded sexual offences – the highest on record, yet still it is estimated that up to 80% of incidents are unreported, and as few as 28% of victims talk to the police.

Kate Davies, NHS England director of sexual assault services, who also recently visited the south London centre, explained: “The physical and emotional impact of sexual crimes lasts a lifetime, so it’s important that survivors can get the help they need, whenever they need it.”

She continued: “The physical effect of these crimes is so shocking that it can be easy to overlook the long-term mental health needs, which may be less visible but not less harmful.

“Across England, the NHS is expanding care for people with mental ill health, whatever their condition, and our new guarantee of personal, joined-up and life-long care for those who have suffered sexual assault and abuse, will build on excellent progress to address a big gap in care.”

The strategic direction for sexual assault and abuse services has been developed with survivors and victims of these crimes, as well as the government and charities.

NHS England has said that the strategy will mean a significant improvement in services, including easier access to treatment centres for combined physical and mental health treatment, and a commitment that any victim and survivor of sexual assault or abuse will get trauma care throughout their lifetime.

There will also be support and guidance for all community services to join up care and prevent victims from falling through the gaps between organisations and improved access to information for the public on available services and how to access them.

In 2013, the NHS in England took on the responsibility for delivering Sexual Assault Referral centres, with funding for these services increasing from 10m five years ago, to £31m in 2018-19.

Top image: kitzcorner

 

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