McAllister calls for urgent review of decision to stop providing specialist counselling for sexual abuse victims

Alliance Health spokesperson Nuala McAllister MLA has called for an urgent review of the decision from the Department of Health to stop providing specialist counselling services for victims of sexual abuse.

Health Nuala McAllister

The call came after North Belfast MLA Ms McAllister spoke to Nexus NI and had it confirmed the organisation’s contract for specialist counselling services was ending. Nexus NI, which offers support for victims of sexual abuse, also confirmed the Department had not entered a contract with any other provider of similar services, meaning no specialist counselling services for victims of sexual abuse would exist here.

“This is deeply concerning news, given the need for a bespoke service for so many people across the community,” said Ms McAllister.

“Nexus NI provides a vital service, so this news has been compounded by confirmation from the organisation the Department has not entered a contract with any other similar group. It has instead stated victims of sexual abuse can be referred to their GP for a standard counselling service.

“That is simply not good enough. Victims of sexual abuse need specialist therapeutic services, not merely passed to a GP. It is crucial all victims of sexual abuse have access to counselling services meeting their particular needs.

“I have requested the Health Minister update MLAs in the Assembly, with a view to reviewing and changing this decision. Otherwise vulnerable people will be left without the help they need. In the same week the Assembly debated a motion calling for the end of all violence against women and girls, what message does this send?”