People in north east London* will have access to brand new sexual health services thanks to a range of improvements being put in place by Barts Health NHS Trust and provided as part of local councils commitment to improve services to meet local people’s needs.
The new offer will include two fresh and modern centres of excellence with specialist sexual health services and face-to-face clinics. The planned improvements, following substantial public engagement, will mean sexual health services are available for longer hours, closer to people’s homes and better able to meet local residents needs for both contraception and testing/treatment of sexually transmitted infection (STIs).
Barts Health has been awarded a new contract by the local councils to provide the services for the next five years, following a thorough tender process, and is based on a shared vision developed using the views of service users and work with local partners.
Currently north east London has one centre of excellence for sexual health services in Whitechapel. The new model will see an additional centre of excellence created in Stratford, with extended opening hours including the evenings and Saturdays. The location was selected deliberately based on its accessibility, transport links and footfall closer to the places where sexual health need is highest across the boroughs. Local clinics will be available in every borough. Some of the locations of the current clinics will change to ensure they support the new centres of excellence and provide convenient access for local people.
The new model will:
- offer more hours of clinic time and face to face support compared with the current provision
- maintain the commitment to offer patients an appointment within 48 hours of contacting the service
- offer people greater choice for their contraception needs, including an increased offer of long acting reversible contraception (LARC), and ensure that contraception choices are provided alongside the testing and treatment of STIs (this is not currently always the case)
- be supported by the latest digital technology, with people also able to access tailored, confidential and accessible sexual health services across the region
- offer dedicated training, development and support for the wider workforce across primary care.
This model of care is expected to start in phases from December 2017, with all current sexual health services continuing to run until the new services are in place. The Trust will work with our community groups to ensure that residents and service users are well informed about the changes.
Dr Vanessa Apea, sexual health consultant at Barts Health NHS Trust said: “We’re delighted to be able to improve sexual health services for local people over the next five years. New fully accessible, fresh environments, with innovative digital services, alongside increased partnership working with other services will all benefit patients.”
London has the highest sexually transmitted infections rate in England – 65 per cent higher than any other region. Thirty seven per cent of new infections in Londoners were in those aged between 15 and 24. With north east London increasingly becoming a place where young people choose to live, the demand for services is only likely to increase.
Barts Health wants to offer people a range of places to access services so that residents who have told us they don’t want to use hospital settings can use other locations. We will create modern, easily accessible services that people are comfortable in using, increasing prevention and helping people to stay in control of their sexual health.
Recent Care Quality Commission inspection reports have praised Barts Health’s sexual health service’s understanding of the needs of the population, and highlighted its community partnerships and research activities as examples of outstanding practice. The Trust has also pushed the boundaries to provide innovative services like Clinic26; a safe place for men who have experienced historic sexual abuse to access sexual health services.