Child sex abuse victims to be examined in adult unit
Ireland's only 24-hour treatment centre for children who have been sexually assaulted has been forced to close because the HSE is unable to provide medical indemnity insurance.
Children taken to the Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Service (CASATS) must now be referred to an adult unit at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin.
Service co-ordinator Eve Farrelly has called for the Galway-based service to be reopened immediately.
"We know first-hand that when a family is faced with the reality of having to bring their child to be forensically examined because of suspected sexual abuse, their whole world can sometimes feel like it's been taken from under their feet," she said.
"We support the children and families during and after their forensic medical examination," she added.
The failure to provide medical indemnity cover means the centre would not have been covered if an injury is sustained from medical procedures or malpractice.
However, the HSE said it was in negotiations with the four medical examiners who worked at the facility about the insurance issue.
"Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that full and appropriate indemnity is provided by the HSE for any care that might arise in the short term," a spokeswoman added.
Children At Risk in Ireland (CARI) said victims of child sexual abuse under the age of 14 cannot avail of adequate support, examination or treatment at adult sexual assault and treatment units.
"This model service should not only be reinstated but extended throughout the country," it added.