Sexual Health Service Continues to Expand


The Sexual Health Service within the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust continues to expand to meet rising levels of new sexually transmitted infections (STIs), particularly Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and HIV. Coupled with public demand for screening, increases in STIs are put increasing pressure on Northern Ireland’s existing Genito-Urinary Medicine (sexual health) clinics.

Clinics are provided in each of the Trust areas in Downpatrick, Lisburn and Bangor providing a comprehensive service for people concerned about sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. In a unique partnership between the Trust’s Sexual Health Service and GP practices throughout the Trust area, anyone who does not have symptoms can have a sexual health check for sexually transmitted infections with their GP or Practice Nurse. A blood test for HIV and Syphilis is taken as well as self-taken tests for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.

In addition, the clinic will have an important public health role, as prompt diagnosis and treatment of infection, as well as the coordination of partner notification, are central to STI control. The service aims to improve, protect and promote the sexual health and well-being of the population of the South Eastern Trust area by providing a first class, accessible and highly confidential service.

Dr Fiona Carey, (Consultant in Sexual Health, South Eastern HSC Trust) states “Partnership working between primary and secondary care is a cornerstone of the Trust’s strategic direction for sexual health services following the successful evaluation of a pilot in the North Down area which showed that accessible, cost-effective sexual health care within a framework of robust clinical governance can be provided in a primary care setting. With all four localities now providing asymptomatic check-ups, overall capacity will increase in primary care to 1600 consultations per year, which in turn, will greatly increase the capacity of secondary care to see symptomatic patients in a timely manner”.

The clinics have a dedicated appointment line and a nurse advice line and while an appointment system will be in operation, the clinic staff will make every effort to speak to people who have symptoms, with an aim to seeing urgent cases at the next available clinic. The clinics also have a specialised computer system with some of the key features such as a paperless medical records system with enhanced confidentiality, the ability to text results to patients and robust systems to aid with public health surveillance data collection.

The service continues to enjoy success with the Sexual Health Team winning a national award ‘Clinical Team of the Year’ at the General Practice Awards in London.

Contact telephone numbers for the service are: Appointment Line: (028) 4483 8133 and Nurse Advice/Results Line: (028) 4483 8392