Feasibility of transferring budget and commissioning responsibility for forensic sexual offences examination work from the police to the NHS

Posted on Thursday 14th July 2011

Since the early 2000s, a series of independent reports have argued that there are not enough competent forensic physicians for sexual offences work (HMCPSI/HMC Thematic Inspection of Rape, 2002; subsequent HMCPSI/HMIC joint review, Without Consent, 2005).

The Department of Health (DH) recognised that the development of effective and available services for victims of sexual assault would rely on competent healthcare and  clinical  governance to drive service  effectiveness,  and  would require  a  commensurate development of commissioning,  quality  service  design  and development of the specialist healthcare workforce, especially amongst forensic doctors and nurses.

Their response to these issues, together with the Home Office, was a strategic undertaking to examine the “feasibility of transferring budget and commissioning responsibility for forensic sexual offences examination work to the NHS at the earliest opportunity”.

The Coalition Government's commitment to address the underlying issues is part of the strategy, Call to end Violence against Women and Girls and the subsequent Action Plan, published in March 2011. The Plan also responds to Baroness Stern’s independent review of how public authorities, including the NHS and police forces, deal with rape cases.

The Department of Health’s Violence and Social Exclusion Programme and Home Office commissioned HSMC and the Tavistock Institute to undertake this feasibility study, which was carried out between September 2010 and February 2011.

The research team led by Deborah Davidson, Senior Fellow at HSMC, also included:

  • Dr. Tessa Crilly, independent Health Economist
  • Dr. Gill Combes, Senior Associate, HSMC
  • Olivia Joyner and Sean Doidge, Researchers, Tavistock Institute

Full report: Feasibility of transferring budget and commissioning responsibility for forensic sexual offences examination work from the police to the NHS: Evidence base to support the impact assessment (pdf; opens in new window)

Executive summary (pdf; opens in new window)

Equalities Impact Assessment (pdf)