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Hospital suite `better' for rape victims

A rape suite is to be built in a new hospital accident and emergency department in an attempt to improve the treatment and examination of victims.

Dr Ed Glucksman, director of the A&E department at King's College Hospital, south London said yesterday a hospital was a "more appropriate" place for people who had been raped to be examined than a police station and that nursing staff were being given special training.

Dr Glucksman said the suite was part of a national development, with Hillingdon Hospital, west London, being the first to open a rape unit and a small number of other hospitals also making plans. King's is believed to be the second.

He said there were enough cases to warrant special arrangements for people who have been raped.

The unit is part of a £4m improvement to the A&E department, a 100-year-old unit which became infamous for keeping seriously ill patients on trolleys when there were no beds for them in the wards.

In the most recent case, in May last year, a coroner criticised the hospital after a female patient with acute sickle cell anaemia spent 20 hours on a trolley.

Dr Glucksman said yesterday the unit was built to accommodate 30,000 people a year but was dealing with 80,000 of whom 75,000 are first time patients.

He said 90 per cent of patients are now admitted within four hours and 70 per cent of these within two hours. "Efficiency has improved dramatically despite the state of the present old department and the fact that there is a massive rebuilding programme going on."

By the end of the decade with the new unit functioning the hospital anticipates it will be treating 100,000 patients in the department. It will be three times the size of the existing unit and include a section for treating children.

The first phase of the new unit opens this summer.