About the sexual assault self-referral phone service

Immediate action required: Phone 999 or go to A&E immediately if:

  • you're bleeding heavily
  • you believe you were drugged
  • you were choked or strangled during the assault
  • you have any bruising or pain around your throat or neck
  • you lost consciousness (fainted or passed out) at any point during or after the assault
  • you have any type of head injury
  • you have any pain in your chest
  • you think you might have broken a bone
  • you have difficulty breathing

Phone the NHS Scotland sexual assault self-referral phone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0800 148 88 88. Calls are free from landlines and mobiles.

The sexual assault self-referral phone service can help you:

  • arrange a forensic medical examination (FME)
  • refer you to a sexual assault response co-ordination service (SARCS) to make sure your immediate health and wellbeing needs are met after a rape or sexual assault
  • get in touch with local services
Who is the service for?

When you phone this service you may be referred to a healthcare professional at the SARCS who will call you to discuss your immediate health and wellbeing needs. Try to keep your phone free so that you don't miss their call. It may be appropriate for you to have an FME.

People in Scotland aged 16 and over can self-refer for an FME, allowing evidence to be gathered and give you time to consider if you want to make a report to the police at a later date.

The sexual assault self-referral phone service is not a counselling service or support line.

The person you speak to at the self-referral phone service will not ask about the details of what happened to you, and they are unable to transfer you to anyone else on the call. They can only take your details and pass them to a healthcare professional at the SARCS who will phone you back. If you miss the call they will attempt to phone you a second time.

What happens when you phone

When you phone this service you may be referred to a healthcare professional at a SARCS. They will phone you to assess whether it's appropriate for you to get an FME.

When you phone the service you will be asked:

  • your name
  • your date of birth
  • the phone number you want to be contacted on
  • if you're safe
  • if you have any injuries that require medical attention
  • the date the assault happened
  • the area you are in (i.e. local council, health board, town or city)
  • if that is the area you live in
  • if that is the area you want an appointment in (to allow you to choose where you receive your care)

The sexual assault self-referral phone service is not a counselling service or support line.

The person you speak to at the self-referral phone service will not ask about the details of what happened to you, and they are unable to transfer you to anyone else on the call. They can only take your details and pass them to a healthcare professional at a SARCS who will phone you back. If you miss the call they will attempt to phone you a second time.

Learn about contacting the service using Language Line

Read about other support options available to you

Who runs the service?

The sexual assault self-referral phone service is operated by NHS 24 on behalf of the territorial Scottish health boards.

Read about what happens with the data you provide to NHS 24 when phoning the self-referral phone service

To put you in touch with a sexual assault response co-ordination service (SARCS) your details will be passed to the national hub.

The national hub is a service, provided by NHS Ayrshire & Arran on behalf of the other territorial health boards, which allows your details to be privately and securely passed between the self-referral phone service and the SARCS you want to be contacted by.

SARCS are run by their local territorial health board.

Each health board is responsible for the data and information you provide to them, you can find out about what happens with the data you provide on your health boards website.

After your details are passed to a SARCS

A healthcare professional at the SARCS will phone you back as soon as possible. They will ask you for information about the assault and help you make a decision about what to do next.

If you are going to have an FME, you and the healthcare professional will arrange an appointment for you at the SARCS. It's a good idea to write down your appointment time.

Learn more about getting ready for your appointment

If you're not going to have an FME

You'll have a detailed consultation with a healthcare professional at a SARCS over the phone. If you decide that you don't want to have an FME, that is absolutely fine.

During your consultation, it might become clear that it won't be possible to gather forensic evidence from an FME. This can happen for a number of reasons.

Whether you have an FME or you decide not to, the healthcare professional you speak to from the SARCS can refer to you additional support services - for example, sexual health services or places to access emergency contraception. If you'd rather seek out information and services yourself, that's fine too.

Learn more about further support

Last updated:
05 August 2022