And, yesterday, the HSE confirmed it has no plans to reopen a pilot sexual assault treatment unit (SATU) in Kerry General Hospital in Tralee.
Since the unit closed in 2004, victims have had to travel to Cork’s South Infirmary, and on some occasions, to Waterford.
The Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre and local authorities in the county, which made strong calls for the restoration of the service, have pledged to continue campaigning.
The HSE had been expected to provide a satellite SATU for Kerry, which would cost €100,000, would have a rota of on-call doctors at Kerry General Hospital and be managed by a Cork-based nurse.
However, a HSE spokesman yesterday said no such unit had been planned for Kerry.
The Cork unit was seen as sufficient to cover the needs of the region and there were no proposals for a separate unit in Kerry General Hospital, he said.
“The HSE will continue to liaise with the national medical director for SATU, in Dublin, in relation to ensuring that best practice is followed and that whatever appropriate services are required in Kerry to complement the regional service would be put in place,” he added.
However, Vera O’Leary, of the Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, hit out strongly at the lack of a separate unit for Kerry, saying it added to victims’ trauma.
She said: “It’s disgraceful in this day and age that women have to travel long distances for treatment.
The amount of funding needed is only a drop in the ocean in terms of the HSE budget and the unit would have required very little staffing.”
Tralee-based Cllr Norma Foley said the campaign would continue until a Kerry unit was provided.