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Outrage at weekend closure of Rotunda's Sexual Assault unit

23 November, 2006

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP has today reacted angrily to reports that the Rotunda Hospital's Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) has been forced to close at weekends because no doctor is available for on-call duty.

Ms McDonald said that this was another 'scathing indictment on the state of the health service and the government's pathetic attitude towards funding provision'.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"I am shocked and horrified that an essential service such as the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit based at the Rotunda Hospital, has had no weekend cover for at least the last month. Given that many sexual assaults are reported at weekends I find it difficult to comprehend that the victims of such assaults are forced to wait until a doctor comes on duty on Sunday night.

"Given that the unit is a first stop for many victims, it must be traumatic for them to find that the unit has been forced to close. This is a grossly unacceptable situation which needs to be addressed immediately. I want to pay tribute to the staff at the unit for the fantastic work which they undertake in the most difficult of circumstances.

"This situation is compounded by a Government prepared to run the health service into the ground. As a result of sustained under-funding, essential services such as SATU are being downgraded, leaving many vulnerable people left over a weekend with both physical and mental injury.

"This government should be ashamed, by its seemingly disinterested attitude to essential health service provision. This is not a one off situation exclusively experienced at the Rotunda, the states additional three SATU's have also experienced funding problems.

"I challenge this government to rectify this situation as a matter of extreme urgency." ENDS

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