Public consultation begins on changes to sexual health services in North Yorkshire

A public consultation will begin today (August 4) on proposals to update the way sexual health services are provided in North Yorkshire.

By George Buksmann
Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 1:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 1:40 pm
A public consultation has launched on changes to sexual health services in North Yorkshire. (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty)
A public consultation has launched on changes to sexual health services in North Yorkshire. (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty)

The services have been delivered through YorSexualHealth, provided by the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust since 2015.

The current service is highly rated and performs well when compared to similar areas of the country, ranking second from a league table of 16.

Cllr Caroline Dickinson, Executive member for Public Health, said: "Sexual health services are vital and we are proud of the quality of what has been available to people in North Yorkshire in recent years.

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"We are determined that we will meet the county’s future needs to the same level, but there are always opportunities to make changes and do things more efficiently."

The agreements between North Yorkshire County Council, who finance it, and the hospital trust which provide the service are periodically reviewed, and it is proposed from April 2022 that a new partnership will be created to provide the service for at least the next four years.

The County Council’s Executive is being asked to approve proposals and arrangements which could see a new legal agreement between the council and hospital trust.

The public health grant, which helps fund services, is reducing nationally meaning the county council will have less public health money available.

The county council is reviewing the service with York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, analysing the changing way people have used the service as a result of the Covid pandemic.

The proposals for the service in North Yorkshire include:

• Further development of the existing online offer, with more services available remotely dependant on risk including:

• An online system where people can book appointments, get test results and find out what treatment they need

• Continuation of a telephone triage system manned by highly skilled clinical staff – which will ensure that people get to the right part of the service (a mobile number will still be available to young people which they can use to access the service); More information and advice on the website, including self-referral for counselling and ordering of STI tests.

• Continuation of face-to-face community clinics in some locations, five days a week, with the main hubs in Harrogate, Northallerton, Scarborough and Selby remaining as they are.

• Full contraception service to remain in place, but those aged over 19 will be directed to their GP for longer-term continuation.

• An improved training offer for frontline sexual health professionals.

• Integration between counselling and HIV support services to provide a more coordinated service for people living with HIV and their carers.

• Professionals with different roles would work more closely to improve reach for those in high-risk groups, such as drug and alcohol users and sex workers.

A further consultation will take place before the start date of April 1 2022 to give residents the opportunity to comment on proposals for the way the new system would operate.

Jo Mannion, Consultant and Care Group Director for Family Health at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We have successfully provided a range of high-quality, easily accessible sexual health services over the last few years, and we welcome the opportunity to build on this success in strong partnership with the County Council."

To read the full proposals about changes to the service and fill in the survey visit the North Yorkshire County Council website.