Byline: Rosemary Daly
THERE are already few services and sexual assault treatment units to help victims of rape and sexual assault in Ireland.
The service is hopelessly and absolutely underfunded. For example in Dublin there is the treatment unit for victims of sex assault at the Rotunda hospital.
But we just can't get enough staff to do the enormous amount of work that exists.
There are simply not enough doctors in the unit to cover the rotas and given it's a 24-hour service, that makes it even worse.
We need fully trained up doctors who can offer medical care and deal with the needs of the victim.
But as well as that they also need to be in a position to know how to collect vital forensic evidence.
And it's important that it's collected as soon as possible as the forensic evidence becomes less effective as time wears on.
The public just wouldn't believe the pay for a shift; it's about E70 for 24 hours, so you're depending on the goodwill of doctors to help out.
But goodwill shouldn't have to come into it.
What we need is the Department of Health to have designated funding for units like this.
The Gardai obviously have their role to play too, as does the Rape Crisis Centre.
We can both get trained people along to the sexual assault unit when we're contacted.
But that's not much use when they can't get a doctor to do the necessary work.
The people running the unit are distracted trying to offer the service against this backdrop. There are units in Dublin, Cork and Drogheda.
The initiative is started by us but once it's in place we need funding and the trained up doctors to carry out the vital service.
There are so many horror stories that we hear of; in one case recently a victim had to travel from Dublin to Drogheda for forensic testing because the resources just weren't there in Dublin. …