New integrated sexual health service in Londonderry

THE Western Health and Social Care Trust has announced the start of a transformation of services to offer a new Integrated Sexual Health Service to operate in the Waterside.

This has been marked by the introduction of a Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) session for women alongside Family Planning sessions at the Brae Clinic, Waterside Health and Social Care Centre. This is a move towards creating a community based ‘one stopshop’ for female sexual health services.

The Western Trust is in the process of re-designing Sexual Health Services following a visit to the Sandyford Initiative, a sexual health centre of excellence in Glasgow. The Trust is now incorporating elements from the Initiative to local services which will also involve establishing other GUM Clinics throughout the Western Trust area, introducing drop-in sessions and working closely with partners in Further Education to develop preventative health education.

Western Trust Head of Public Health Services, Marie Hutton said: “This development is in direct response to clients needs, driven by youth participation surveys carried out over the past couple of years. Establishing GUM services at Brae Clinic and introducing walk-in appointments are small steps forward towards creating an Integrated Sexual Health Service which is fully accessible for people within their local communities.

“Although this is only a small step towards the longer-term plan, these changes have only been possible through the dedication of our GUM and Sexual Health staff. Over the last five years the number of patients visiting GUM clinics has grown dramatically,” she said.

“Coupled with high rates of unattended appointments, our staff continue to work effortlessly to promote good Sexual Health and show tremendous support for innovative ideas to create a more efficient and innovative service.”

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Further Education Colleges and the University at Magee to establish a sexual health promotion induction for new students from September. Through the backing of the Health Promotion Agency we will now be able to also offer local STI screening clinics at the university and colleges throughout the western area,” Andrea McCauley, Sexual Health Coordinator for the Western Trust said.

“We hope that through these initiatives we will engage more with the public, educating about the importance of keeping good sexual health and removing any stigma associated with attending a GUM clinic,” she added.

Carers strategy launched

A NEW strategy mapping out future plans to support carers in the west of the Province was launched by the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

Entitled Working in Partnership with Carers 2009 – 2014, it was developed by the Trust’s Carers Steering Group, voluntary organisations and carers with the aim of improving the quality of life for carers and the people they look after. Over 60 carers from the Western Trust area attended the event.

The strategy sets out the services already available to support carers in the west and a five-year action plan for improving support which includes: co-ordinating events for carers; staff training; development of a carers’ forum; identifying the number of young carers in the catchment area, and exploring ways of offering training opportunities.

The aim is to identify and implement developments which are of real practical benefit to carers.