Rape victims will now be able to attend an Ayrshire hospital for medical forensic examinations when a new specialist unit opens this year in Prestwick.

It is the first time the service will be offered in Ayrshire as before victims had to travel to Glasgow. 

The £250,000 facility at Prestwick’s Biggart Hospital, will be available for people who have been sexually assaulted in the past seven days.

A team from Glasgow will travel to the town to carry out the forensic examination at the centre, based in the Drummond Ward area, which could open as early as April. 

All after care will be provided by Ayrshire staff.

A health boss outlined the plan at a board meeting on Monday.

Nurse director Hazel Borland told the NHS Ayrshire & Arran board: “This is an incredibly positive story.”

Welcoming the move, board chair Lesley Bowie said: “Excellent progress, delighted to see it.”

People who have suffered a sexual assault can get an examination, even if they don’t intend to report an attack to the police. 

It is hoped having an Ayrshire-based forensic unit, which will be named the Willows for the first time will encourage more people to come forward – as they won’t have to travel as far.

The Scottish Government poured £250,000 into funding the unit at the Biggart and the health board has also contributing up to £50,000. 

Ayrshire residents will continue to receive forensic medical examinations and healthcare services at the Archway facility in Glasgow until it opens.

The changes are part of compliance with Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s national standards.

Child forensic examinations following abuse take place in the paediatric ward at University Hospital Crosshouse.

A new paediatric forensic area is due to be constructed this year in the hospital after a new law for victims of sexual offences was passed in the Scottish Parliament on December 10.

The bill places a statutory duty on NHS Boards to provide forensic medical services and health care support for rape and sexual assault victims including those who don’t want to go to the police.

The legislation is called the Forensic Medical Services Bill.

A healthboard spokeswoman said: “NHS Ayrshire & Arran is part of the West of Scotland regional service for the delivery of healthcare and forensic medical examination services for those who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

“This is further to passing of the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill in December 2020 and enactment of the Bill in April 2021.

“Local services will be delivered from our bespoke facility at the Willows in Prestwick.

“Planning for this is underway, ahead of an opening date which will be confirmed for later this year.”