Posted on Thursday 15 December 2016
A public consultation survey took place in August and September this year.
More than 500 people completed a public consultation survey in August and September this year 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.
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.
Proposals set out in the public consultation included:
- 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.
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.
The Trust’s Board of Directors approved the proposed changes to services at a meeting held in public yesterday (Wednesday 14 December). 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.
Dr Anatole Menon-Johansson, clinical lead for sexual and reproductive health services at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Considerable funding changes are being made across sexual and reproductive health services in London. However, over the coming year we will shape our service to ensure that we fulfil our public health role and deliver the best care possible to our local population.”
The full consultation outcome report, a summary version of the report and other materials are available at www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk/consultation-srh.