A new NHS England pledge will offer victims of sexual assault a lifetime of counselling and mental health care.
This comes as part of a 5-year strategy to deliver a new package of care for victims of sexual assault – including the creation of Sexual Assault Referral Centres.
‘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,’ said Kate Davies, director of sexual assault services at NHS England.
‘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.’
In the year ending September 2017, there were a 138,045 sexual offences reported to the police – the highest figure on record. It is also estimated that up to 80% of incidences go unreported.
According to the Office of National Statistics, it is estimated that 3.1% of women and 0.8% of men have experienced sexual assault in England and Wales, which is approximately 648,000 people.
‘The scars left by sexual violence may not always be visible, but they can be profound and long lasting – it is my priority that we have the best possible support available for survivors,’ said Jackie Doyle-Price, minister for mental health and inequalities.
‘NHS England’s new sexual assault strategy and the commitment within it to provide care that is better signposted, more joined up and long lasting is essential so that all survivors can access the support they need for as long as they need it.’
The Havens, run by King’s College Hospital, is the model that will be rolled out across England this year.