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Donegal could be ‘first of many’ bespoke SATUs

The opening of a new sexual assault treatment unit (SATU) in Letterkenny, Co Donegal last year will “hopefully” be the “first of many” bespoke SATUs in the country, this newspaper has been told. In late June, the SATU national service published its 2020 annual report which showed that the six SATUs provided care to 734 people, a decrease from 2019 when 943 patients attended.

“As well as capturing the metrics that we always report on, this year’s report also focuses on the specific impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had on our services,” Dr Maeve Eogan, National Clinical Director of the SATU service and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, told the Medical Independent (MI).
Dr Eogan noted the report’s section on the new Donegal SATU, which will be “hopefully the first of many bespoke SATUs”.

In 2020, the “first purpose-built SATU in the Republic of Ireland” was opened “after 11 years of being temporarily facilitated in the NoWDOC premises in Letterkenny”.

“We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank NoWDOC management and staff in their support for the SATU service,” noted the annual report. In terms of the recent impact of the cyberattack, Dr Eogan told MI that SATU clinical care “was not affected”.

She added that the SATU service collects anonymous details on attendances, including information on age, gender, and type of incident. “While this database was not compromised by the cyber hack, it has been unavailable to us since 14 May, so we do not have up-to-date statistics for that period of time,” said Dr Eogan.

“Work is ongoing to get it back up and running, and clearly data can be inputted retrospectively, but we miss having access to that in terms of monitoring activity levels and ensuring our service is fit for purpose.” The annual report found that while there was a 22 per cent reduction in attendances compared with 2019, it was “significant to note that sexual violence unfortunately did not disappear”.

“We have summarised some of the salient metrics. What is most notable is that there was a sustained demand for the service throughout the year…. These metrics confirm the multifactorial nature of sexual violence, with prevention undoubtedly requiring a ‘whole of society’ approach,” according to the report.

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