Intended for healthcare professionals


Walk-in centres are often first line contact for rape victims

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 29 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1215
  1. Maria J Gough, walk-in centre nurse practitioner (tabbs44{at}
  1. Harlow NHS Walk in Centre, Harlow, Essex CM20 1QO

    EDITOR—Wilken and Welche discusssed the management of people who have been raped.1 Walk-in centres provide emergency hormonal contraception: we see women presenting for emergency hormonal contraception because they have been raped.

    Victims include people who have experienced “date rapes” or domestic violence—not everyone feels able to divulge the circumstances of their experience. Amazingly, some do not even realise that they have been raped. Few want police involvement.

    Walk-in centres could, in the future, take samples for blood and urine 0–72 hours after the rape (for drugs), which is also the time frame for post-traumatic reactions and administration of emergency contraception.

    Walk-in centres offer long opening hours, treatment of minor injuries, and drug treatment under primary group direction on site. Staff also have access to other relevant areas via liaison links and referral pathways. Walk-in centre nurses could even be trained in forensic and sexual health examination. There is currently a nurse forensic examiner pilot scheme in Manchester.

    The recent changes to the rape laws to encourage reporting of this crime are likely to affect the NHS—the 42 walk-in centres countrywide could help improve the quality of care currently offered to this client group.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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