Project managed by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office and implemented by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the award-winning service first started as a pilot scheme at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in 2018 but has since been rolled out across Lancashire.
Thanks to NHS England funding secured by the Commissioner’s Office, the service has now been extended for a further five years to 2027.
The project places specialist support workers in health settings to provide immediate support to anyone who discloses recent or historic experiences of sexual violence and to provide access to further support through other local services.
The team of Health Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) also train healthcare staff to recognise the signs of sexual abuse and to respond appropriately, making links with partners and creating referral routes. Health ISVAs act as a resource for colleagues by offering specialist knowledge, advice and skills, and access to timely patient-focused and holistic support.
Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden said: “It’s fantastic to meet the team and to hear first-hand about the positive difference the project continues to make across Lancashire.
“Rape and sexual assault have a huge impact and I am investing in a new dedicated team within the Constabulary to tackle offenders of this type of crime and to improve outcomes for victims.
“The right support is equally important and projects like this can offer specialist help and advice at the very first opportunity.
“This project is a fantastic example of innovative partnership working making a real difference and I am delighted that my office has been able to secure funding for another 5 years to continue this important work.”
Hazel Gregory, Head of Safeguarding at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added: “We are very proud of the work the team is doing here at the Trust and with our partners.
“Indeed, an independent academic review by Lime Culture of the service we now provide across all Lancashire hospitals also found that healthcare was empowered to respond to victims and survivors of sexual abuse and violence, and most importantly that there was good evidence of improved outcomes for victims. This is why the team works so hard – to make a difference to the people we support.
“This clinically effective public health approach to victims of sexual abuse and violence has also been recognised in national awards including the HRH Integrated Approaches to Care category of the Nursing Times award, which recognised that the work initiated at BTH could be replicated across the country.”
Julie Dhuny, Head of Health and Justice for NHS England in the North region said: “NHS England are pleased to support this award-winning service which delivers dedicated support for victims across Lancashire. The additional funding will secure provision for the next five years and builds on an already established and innovative service.
“We are committed to working closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner, partners and service providers to ensure that victims and survivors of sexual violence continue to receive the highest quality support services.”
Outside of health settings, specialist support for victims of rape or sexual assault is available through Lancashire Victim Services.