Leaders of sexual health services have highlighted a series of improvements to access and confidentiality following feedback by young people in survey work by Young Healthwatch South Tyneside.
South Tyneside Sexual Health Service says it is now offering an initial telephone consultation for all enquiries and a convenient face to face appointment slot to include the addition of Stanhope Parade Health Centre Clinic in South Shields and evening consultations four days of the week.
The service says it has also improved confidentiality and is identifying a dedicated young person’s clinic, as recommended in the Young Healthwatch South Tyneside report.
In response to Covid-19 and social distancing requirements, the service has expanded online self-testing, advice and guidance, and an online condom ordering and distribution service has been established.
A number of pharmacies are also involved in the issue of emergency hormonal contraception, advice, sexual health screening and condom distribution. Pharmacists attend and receive relevant training with the Sexual Health Service and are well equipped to support young people across a range of community locations.
The group of volunteers aged 16 to 25 who comprise the Young Healthwatch team highlighted sexual health as a key issue for young people when the group was first formed.
Following the decision in late 2018 to relocate the well-established Sexual Health Service for young people in Stanhope Parade, South Shields, to Palmers Community Hospital in Jarrow, YHST wanted to find out if the newly located service was meeting the needs of the young people using it.
The Sexual Health Service agreed to help the Young Healthwatch team find out more about what the service delivered and to survey service users to obtain feedback and suggestions for further improvements.
Over a five week period prior to the initial national lockdown in Spring 2020, YHST visited the sexual health clinics at Palmers Community Hospital in Jarrow and Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre in South Shields to speak to staff and young people using the service.
They also conducted a community drop-in at South Tyneside College and met community groups at Bright Futures, Matrix and Apna Ghar and students at Harton Academy.
In all, 165 young people aged between 13 and 25 were surveyed and asked questions about their awareness of sexual health services and experiences of using them.
As a result of their feedback the following recommendations were made to South Tyneside Sexual Health Service:
- A dedicated young person clinic at Palmers Community Hospital and Cleadon Park.
- A warmer more welcoming confidential area.
- Consider offering later appointments and more drop-in services at the Palmers Community Hospital and Cleadon Park clinics.
- Consider increasing outreach sessions in the community.
- Review of wait times, to reduce the time a young person waits to prevent walk outs or non-engagement in the service.
- Increase awareness of the service across all communications and partnership pathways.
- More work to be done in schools and outreach to give more practical information about the sexual health services to help remove stigma.
- Improve access to information and barriers in pharmacies.
- Consider community locations to enable young people to access condoms, STI and general sexual health information easier.
- More outreach work needs to be done improving knowledge of the service and what is available with partners, schools and hard to reach groups in particular the BAME community.
The full report and response from South Tyneside Sexual Health Service to its findings can be found here:
A wide range of advice and information about sexual health services can also be found in the Young Healthwatch area of the Healthwatch South Tyneside website at: