Campaigners have launched a petition calling for Surrey’s sexual vital health services to be saved, amidst fears clinics could be shut down from next month.
Surrey County Council awarded a contract for the handling of the county’s genitourinary (GUM), community contraception and HIV clinics to Central and North West London NHS Trust – the only bidder for the contract – in September 2016. The contract commences on April 1.
But some councillors are concerned that reorganisations under the new contract would limit access to sexual health services after ‘a source’ told them there are proposals to close clinics in Leatherhead, Frimley Green and Chertsey as well as all community contraception clinics.
They understand these will be replaced with three centralised hubs in Guildford, Woking and Redhill, and emphasise the role of school nurses, pharmacists and GPs in administering sexual health services.
When asked about the alleged proposals, a spokesperson for the Trust said it was reviewing current services and would “be sending out more information very soon”.
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Mole Valley Claire Malcomson has launched a petition calling for the services to be protected, and to prevent people in need of help travelling to
Cllr Malcomson worries the alleged proposals would increase pressure on school nurses, pharmacists and GPs, and that the proposed hubs would be difficult to access for patients in the north of Surrey – especially Bookham, Fethcham, Leatherhead, Ashtead and Epsom.
She said: “Surrey's sexual health clinics provide vital services covering sexually transmitted infection, genito-urinary medicine and contraception.
"They limit the spread of sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, protect young people's health and reduce teenage pregnancies, significantly cutting the costs of our local health and care services.
“Most of these – including those at Leatherhead and Epsom – are now facing closure leaving just three clinics for the whole of Surrey.”
Vicky Padbury is a specialist sexual health nurse with more than 30 years’ experience who currently works in East Surrey.
She said: “This is putting young people at risk. Limiting the services they can access is short sighted and dangerous.
"The young people I see may not want to go to their GP or may not be able to get an appointment, they may not be able to travel to the one central clinic for services and advice. They need support in their community from specialist nurses.
"All services are stretched at the moment but by trying to centralise services will put patients at risk and ultimately cost the NHS more.”
A spokesperson for CNWL, which was awarded the sexual health contract, said: “We understand that people have lots of questions about the proposed new services. We’ll be sending out more information very soon.
“We’re reviewing the operating bases across the County to make sure all patients have a modern service that is quick and easy to use, where residents can have their sexual health and contraceptive needs met in one appointment - particularly those most at risk of sexual ill health. We’ll also be running outreach services in the community.
“CNWL will work in partnership with existing staff and commissioners so the new service does not disadvantage any Surrey resident.”
To sign the petition, visit: https://signme.org.uk/1318