Seán Crowe T.D. has welcomed the announcement of an additional €500,000 in funding for the State’s six Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs). The Sinn Féin TD added that extra resources are urgently needed to provide for the increases in presentations to the units. SATUs aim to provide a service to victims of sexual assault within three hours of first contact.

Deputy Seán Crowe said: “Victims of sexual assault are entitled to the provision of fully resourced specialised care but increasingly that has not been the case. Hard pressed staff across all of the six STAUs who are carrying out vital work must be commended for their compassion and professionalism, but the reality is that many of these units are not adequately resourced. This can result in victims sometimes not getting the necessary care they urgently need in the unit nearest to them or long delays in waiting for supports. “Whilst we are still waiting for publication of the policy review the intended provision of additional forensic nurse and medical examiners through new funding of two extra training programmes is welcome news.

“We expect that the policy review will also say that services are seriously under pressure with demand for the service increasing. 941 patients used the services in 2018 and there has been an average annual increase of around 11% in people presenting over the last four years. “Although all of the existing six units, based in Dublin, Westmeath Galway, Donegal, Cork and Waterford,  aim is to provide a 24/7/365 service we know from victims first hand experiences that this has not always been the case, mainly  due to financial and essential staff shortages. “The €500,000 increase in funding is extremely welcome and will make a real difference both to frontline staff and those who find themselves in need of this service. “The creation of rapid responder forensic examiners who will travel to patients in the unit nearest to them when staff shortages occur in centres is a welcome development. “It is vitally important that this process of review be undertaken on a regular basis to ensure that resources are matching needs across all of the SATUs. Future reviews must also consider the provision of additional units if demand continues to grow. There remain many outstanding issues, but this is a strong starting point and will make a measurable difference to staff and service users in this sector.”