In this week’s health column, we look at the services on offer to help you to look after your sexual health during this difficult period.
Cumbria Sexual Health Service covers the whole county with clinics in Carlisle, Whitehaven, Workington, Kendal and Barrow.
The service provides sexual health, contraception and HIV care. The clinics provide free, confidential, non-judgemental advice, guidance, and support.
The service offers free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and all methods of contraception. Each clinic has a minimum of one late night clinic per week to ensure that patients have more choice with regard to their appointments.
The service has an active outreach service supporting schools, colleges, prison health and our wider community to educate and raise awareness, using a blend of health promotion events and face to face sessions.
Due to the geographical spread of the county and the mix of both rural and urban communities, this is an ongoing objective to ensure engagement with high risk, vulnerable and hard to reach groups.
Dr Su Currie, Consultant and Interim Clinical Director, said: “Within the service we have a mix of doctors, nurses, health care assistants, outreach, and administrative staff who have strong relationships with our commissioners, Cumbria County Council, in addition to primary health care providers, key agencies and third sector organisations.
“We work in partnership with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals to support the care of patients living with HIV in Cumbria.
“All clinical staff are trained to a nationally recognised standard in addition to following guidance from the British Association of Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH) and Faculty for Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH).
“The service is a training provider for local universities and medical schools. It has taken part in cutting edge research such as the Impact Trial (provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV – PrEP). This influenced NHS England’s decision to offer this on prescription as it was demonstrated how efficacious this was.”
Nikki Bridson-Nelson, Service Manager, said: “The Sexual Health Service demonstrated responsiveness and flexibility when facing the pandemic in March 2020. We were extremely proactive redeploying staff to work in other areas of the Trust and are delighted to have won the Trust’s thank you award for Redeployed Team.
“The service has also gained national recognition for its efforts with local COVID-19 contact tracing in Cumbria. We also continued to provide an essential sexual health service for the county; establishing a countywide phone line which triaged patients according to need and maintained the safety of patients and staff, reducing footfall in our clinics.
“In order to provide increased accessibility and flexibility for patients in the future, the service is introducing online booking, online testing and video consultations via a secure video link using Attend Anywhere. This will form a vital part of the business continuity and increase the ways in which patients can be seen and receive treatment.”
People can find out more information by visiting https://www.ncic.nhs.uk/services/sexual-health