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GPs in remote islands to be trained to examine rape victims

GPs in remote areas of Scotland are being trained to examine victims of sexual crime to prevent women having to travel to the mainland.

Rape Crisis Scotland called for specialist services earlier this year, saying some women in the Northern Isles were not reporting crimes because it would mean travelling by plane or boat under police escort for forensic examination.

Now £76,000 has been made available for 50 doctors to undertake a training programme over the next year.

Shetland is amongst the first area to pilot the scheme which is also hoping the boost the number of female doctors trained to carry out forensic medical examination.

Justice secretary Michael Matheson announced the funding with a trip to Shetland to meeting one of three GPs who are amongst the first to take part in the remote training programme.

NHS Shetland is also offering all staff dealing with victims of sexual assault access to training, including sexual health staff and police officers, so that each member of the team fully understands the process, he announced.

Mr Matheson said: ‘Making this training more accessible and this new funding for doctors to become qualified to carry out these examinations will mean that victims should no longer have to travel to the mainland for evidence to be taken.

‘We also hope that it will encourage more female doctors throughout Scotland to come forward and become qualified to provide this service.’

There are plans to roll out the training to other areas of Scotland once the pilot has been completed.

Professor Stewart Irvine, Medical Director of NHS Education for Scotland, said as well as redesigning training to make it available to rural staff they were also creating a clinical lead to support newly trained forensic medical examiners

‘Victims of rape and sexual abuse deserve the best possible care whether they are in urban or rural areas.’

Rape crisis services in Orkney and Shetland will receive an extra £38,000 to increase their staff, Mr Matheson announced.