More than 500 people completed a public consultation survey in August and September 2016 about proposed changes to Guy’s and St Thomas’ sexual and reproductive health services in Lambeth and Southwark.
One-to-one interviews with patients, a group discussion with patients in a sexual health clinic, community focus groups with people from ‘hard to reach’ groups, and a public meeting were also held during the consultation period.
The consultation was carried out by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, supported by Lambeth Council and Southwark Council.
Why was a consultation necessary?
Local councils are responsible for commissioning public health services including sexual and reproductive health services such as testing, treatment and contraception.
They receive a grant from central Government but the amount of funding provided to councils has been significantly reduced. These budget cuts are passed on to providers of sexual and reproductive health services such as Guy’s and St Thomas’.
At the same time demand for services is increasing – Lambeth and Southwark have the highest rates of newly diagnosed HIV cases in England and some of the highest rates of other sexually transmitted infections.
Therefore the challenge for the Trust is to run its sexual and reproductive health services differently with reduced funding, while diagnosing and treat the same number of patients.
We wanted to consult with patients and our local community to seek their views on the changes proposed to services in order to meet this challenge.
What did the consultation propose?
- Expanding and developing the existing SH:24 online testing service
- Reducing the number of centres where Guy’s and St Thomas’ provides sexual and reproductive health services from six to three by no longer offering these services at Lloyd Clinic in Guy’s Hospital, Vauxhall Riverside Health Centre or Artesian Health Centre
- Increasing the opening hours of the three remaining clinics
- Continuing to offer both ‘walk-in’ clinics and appointments booked in advance.
What did people say in response to the consultation?
The vast majority of people who responded to the public consultation understood the need to change the way services are currently provided, due to the reduction in funding, although there was understandable concern about the proposed closure of clinics. There was strong support for extending evening opening hours and increasing the use of online testing.
What happens next?
The Trust’s Board of Directors approved the proposed changes to services at a meeting held in public on Wednesday 14 December 2016. The Board has asked for a report six months after implementation of the changes in order to review the impact on patients.
The phased closure of sexual and reproductive health services at the three clinics where these services will no longer be provided will start on Friday 13 January at Artesian Health Centre.
For further information