Children who have been raped facing unacceptable waiting times for help
1 October 2018, 06:55 | Updated: 1 October 2018, 09:58
A report says children who've been victims of sexual assault in Wales are having to wait years to get support.
Children who have been raped or sexually assaulted face unacceptable waiting times for medical examinations and support, according to the Children's Commissioner for Wales' latest annual report.
It's claimed children who have been raped or sexually assaulted cannot access a forensic medical examination quickly enough after the traumatic event they have experienced, due to shortages of suitably qualified and experienced medical staff, and often have to travel long distances.
We're told there are more children than ever before coming forward for specialist support after sexual abuse, but there are long waiting lists in some areas.
Sexual Assault Referral Centres provide both immediate medical attention, delivered by suitably trained paediatricians and forensic medical examiners, to children who have been raped or sexually assaulted, and long-term counselling. Currently only centres in Cardiff and Colwyn Bay are able to provide medical examinations of children, due to the lack of suitably qualified and experienced medical staff.
Children's Commissioner Professor Sally Holland said:
"It is not right that we do not have enough specialist medical professionals to provide the right immediate care to children all over Wales, and the distances and waiting times faced by children for long-term help are unacceptable.
"I am hearing of horrifying situations where children have had to wait for days to be examined and having to travel late at night to see someone following a horrific ordeal. This cannot be right."
"In one case this led to a 4-year-old child from mid Wales having to travel to Cardiff late in the evening, and wait several hours for a Forensic Medical Examiner to arrive. By this time they were hungry, tired and less willing to be examined, making the whole process harder for the child and everyone else involved."
"I want all health boards to provide 24/7 access to suitably trained paediatricians and forensic medical examiners, so that no child has to wait for many hours or even days for an examination, and that sufficient counselling and recovery services for victims are available throughout Wales."