West Midlands PSAS – Information for professionals
The West Midlands Paediatric Sexual Assault Service is a region-wide service which provides expert care for children and young people who have disclosed sexual assault, or who may have been subject to sexual abuse.
Clients are seen by an experienced paediatrician with specialist training in forensic examination and are supported by a crisis worker.
Who to refer
Our service is open to children and young people who:
- are under the age of 18 (up to 20th birthday if significant learning difficulties
and in full-time education).
- either reside within the West Midlands, Warwickshire or West Mercia police force area boundaries, or where the offence has
been committed in that area:
- are victims of rape or serious sexual assault, or where there is suspected sexual abuse.
Reasons for referral may include:
- disclosure by the child or young person
- concerns by parent or professional that sexual abuse may be a possibility, for any reason.
If in any doubt, please contact us to discuss your concerns – our doctors are able to advise whether a referral is appropriate.
There when needed
A team is on-call at one of our centres, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Where there is concern about recent sexual assault (ie. acute cases – those within three weeks since the last assault), clients will be seen the same day.
We aim to be there within 60 minutes. We also offer routine clinic appointments for historic cases, with a choice of time, examiner and location. These are suitable for historical allegations (three weeks or more since the last assault), where forensic sampling is not required.
Clients and their families will be seen within a warm, welcoming and safe environment, which has been specially adapted for the
age group. We have four centres serving the West Midlands:
• Blue Sky Centre, George Elliot Hospital, Nuneaton
• Oasis Suite, Birmingham Children’s Hospital
One of these centres will be available to see acute cases every day of the year. Most weekdays, a second centre will run planned clinics.
Safeguarding and Child Protection
The welfare of the child or young person is paramount. It is essential that wider safeguarding issues are considered, including for those young people 16-17 years of age (for example, to consider the possibility of child sexual exploitation).
Strategy discussion between statutory agencies should occur in every case. Health professionals should refer to the police or children’s social care, following local safeguarding pathways.
The police have specially trained officers who will treat the client with respect and dignity and advise them on the process involved.
What to do if your patient doesn’t want to report to the police or social care
After you have carefully considered safeguarding issues, and discussed it with our team, we accept direct referrals from
Rape and sexual assault can have a serious long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of the client and their family. The most important thing is that they feel that they are believed and they get appropriate support as soon as possible.
In the first instanc,e issues such as emergency contraception and sexual health screening need to be addressed. We do accept self-referrals, and are able to store forensic samples while the young person decides if he/she wishes to make a police report.
Consent and assent
We strive to make the examination as child-friendly as possible. We will only examine a child or young person who agrees to be examined (assents), regardless of age. We will keep them informed, and, as much as possible, give them control over what is done.
Sometimes this may mean only conducting part-examinations, or agreeing that they take their own swabs. We also need formal written consent, which can be achieved in a number of ways, such as:
The young person can sign their own consent if they are Gillick Competent. (This should not be assumed, particularly if under the age of 12, or if known to have learning difficulties; please discuss with the doctor)
A person with parental responsibility is aware of referral and agrees to attend
A Court Order with directive to examine is in place.
All our clients will be offered a bespoke aftercare package, tailored to their individual needs. Advice and screening for sexually transmitted infections, emergency contraception and pregnancy testing will be offered.
We will also make any referral to other specialties such as urology, gynaecology, general paediatrics
or mental health teams that are needed.
Any child or young person aged 5 – 17 years old who undertakes a medical examination and/or has been sexually
abused or exploited will be offered specialist counselling. If the counsellor thinks it would be beneficial to talk to the supportive adult about their child’s counselling (for example in the case of the younger child or a child with specific additional needs), the counsellor would do this.
The child or young person would always be kept informed about what information was being shared with whom and why and this would be discussed in age appropriate language that respects the autonomy of the child or young person.
For children aged 0 – 5 years old, the counselling support will be available to the child’s parent and or carer. Being able to talk about their feelings and thoughts can benefit them and help them to provide the best support for their child. The counselling will be provided by specialist, registered, counsellors and psychotherapists who are experienced in supporting children and young people and helping them cope and recover from the impacts of sexual abuse and/or sexual exploitation.
All clients will be offered counselling sessions which have been set up in a number of locations which have been set up to provide a safe and supportive environment.
West Midlands Paediatric Sexual Assault Service
0800 953 4133 for self-referrals
0800 953 4131 for referrals from professionals or agencies.
General enquiries –pSASWestMids@uk.g4s.com
Sharing confidential information (including referrals) –pSASWestMids@uk.g4s.com.cjsm.net