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Sexual Assault Referral Centre marks anniversary

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By Fiona Reid
Sexual Assault Referral Centre marks anniversary

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 refer themselves directly to 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, above. heads up the service 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 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, 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.

“They are also able to collect and store evidence for up to 26 months.”

The Dumfries based centre can also signpost people to Rape Crisis, and local follow-up support is offered by a sexual health nurse.

Dr Romel added: “It’s very important to stress that confidentiality is paramount, and that the centre is a safe space for everyone.”

The Sexual Assault Referral Centre 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.

To ensure privacy, it has its own car park, discreet entry and specially designed rooms.

The doctor 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, particularly around addressing accessibility for adolescents who currently are required to travel outwith the region.”

n Anyone can self-refer by visiting and the ‘turn to SARCS’ heading. Alternatively, telephone 0800 1488888, 24/7, or ask for the centre when calling the NHS on 01387 246246.