New approach to tackling sexual health issues

A new outfit has been drafted in to unite sexual health services for adults and younger people across the borough.

Friday, 8th December 2017, 2:23 pm
Updated Friday, 15th December 2017, 4:25 pm
A new sexual health service is being introduced across the borough

And while the contract for frontline care is being reduced from £3m to £2.4m, to meet budgetary constraints, council bosses say bringing all ages under one roof will prove to be more efficient in the long run.

Wakefield-based Spectrum Health, a community interest company, have been awarded a five-year deal for three contracts currently held by Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, Brook Wigan and Leigh and Barnado’s, beginning in March.

Affected staff are expected to transfer from the three organisations to Spectrum, which will be retaining walk-in centres at The Galleries in Wigan and Leigh Health Centre.

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Prof Kate Ardern, the borough’s public health director, hopes that aligning sexual health services for young people and adults will represent a streamlined offering for Wigan.

She said: “We are dedicated to providing effective services and it is important that our residents shape how those services are delivered.

“We need to do things differently to get ahead of the curve and encourage a pro-active, preventative approach.

“We are extremely excited to start working with Spectrum CIC and believe that this new way of working will reduce the stigma and taboo nature of talking about sexual health.”

Prof Ardern was particularly impressed by the fact that Spectrum’s chief executive, Dr Linda Harris, started out as a GP, and the new company is capable of training up its own staff.

Seven community clinics - in Wigan, Leigh, Ashton, Pemberton, Hindley and Hindley Green, Bryn, and Atherton - are set to be established where the need for sexual health advice is considered to be greatest.

Free condom services for the under-25s, delivered as part of the C-Card initiative currently provided by Brook, are also set to continue.

And after seeking advice from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), the new provider is being asked to encourage users to consider testing at home and community settings, as well as expanding information and advice services in the likes of GP practices, schools, pharmacies and community centres.

Online sexual health support, especially for younger people, is another key component.

Dr Harris said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the news of being chosen by Wigan to deliver their sexual health services and are excited by the opportunity to support the ambitions the council has to develop innovative citizen centred sexual health and wellbeing services.

“We are very much looking forward to working with the council and the people of Wigan Borough to shape the services they want and need.”

Teenage pregnancy rates and diagnosis rates for sexually-transmitted diseases for the borough are both said to be in decline.