Paediatric service

There is a dedicated paediatric service based at Exeter SARC for children and young people up to their 18th birthday. This service provides forensic medical assessments for children and young people from across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly following recent sexual assault.

The Exeter SARC also provides non-recent medical assessments of children and young people from Devon, Torbay and Plymouth following non-recent sexual assault.

The paediatric service ensure that every referral for a child or young person is reviewed by the clinical team, to make sure that all health needs are addressed. They consider a broad range of support services for children and ensure appropriate onward referrals to relevant services, including the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service.

The forensic medical assessment

A forensic medical assessment includes considering the therapeutic needs of the child as well as collecting forensic evidence. The assessment may include:

  • An assessment of the child’s health and social background
  • Checking the child’s ears, nose and throat, listening to their heart and lungs and examining their abdomen
  • Checking for any injuries on body surfaces as well as the genital and anal area (external examination only)
  • Discussing the risk of sexually transmitted infections and arranging testing when required
  • In girls, considering if emergency contraception (“the morning after pill”) is needed. This can be provided during the assessment
  • Collecting forensic samples
  • Providing reassurance to children/young people and their families
  • Providing onward referrals to support agencies, including the ISVA service

Many people worry about children having a forensic medical assessment; however it is well recognised that children, and their families, find the process to be a very positive and therapeutic experience. It allows them the chance to discuss any concerns they have, receive reassurance as appropriate and access any medical care they may need as a result of a sexual assault.

We understand that children/young people and their families may feel nervous about the assessment so we allow time for them to go at their own pace, providing a safe and supportive environment for them.

You can watch a video about what happens during the medical examination of a child here. 

How to access the service

The paediatric SARC service can be accessed via the secure online referral form for Devon and Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centres or by calling 0300 303 4626. This works as a single point of referral into SARC or ISVA services.

For any child or young person under the age of 18 years, if there are concerns about sexual assault, it is important that police and children’s social care are also aware of the concerns – please ensure appropriate referrals to these organisations have been made.

If a sexual assault has occurred in the last 10 days

If a sexual assault (ongoing abuse) has occurred within the last 10 days you should telephone the paediatric service on 0300 303 4626 to discuss with a clinician whether a forensic medical examination may be required. If a forensic medical assessment is undertaken, we will always offer a referral to the ISVA service as part of our assessment.

If a sexual assault (or most recent incident of sexual abuse) occurred more than 10 days ago

If a sexual assault (or most recent incident of sexual abuse) occurred more than 10 days ago, we recommend you refer to the paediatric service using the online referral form.

All referrals received will be reviewed by the paediatric service team to ensure that any medical needs are considered and addressed.

All online referrals will include a referral to both the paediatric service and the ISVA service.

How do I access telephone advice or invite a clinician to a strategy discussion?

If you would like to speak to a clinician from the paediatric service to discuss a child or young person, or to ask for clinical or forensic advice, please telephone 0300 303 4626.

If you would like to invite a clinician from the Paediatric Service to contribute to a strategy discussion, please call 0300 303 4626 (or email ) if planning a strategy discussion some time in advance of the meeting).

When is the service available?

The paediatric service will be available for forensic medical assessments from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday and from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday. However, outside of these times, there will be a dedicated 24-hour telephone line for professionals (police, children’s social care and health professionals) seeking clinical and forensic advice. This will also ensure that there is always a member of the paediatric medical team available to contribute to strategy discussions.