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Consultation begins on changes to sexual health service in North Yorkshire

Consultation begins on changes to sexual health service in North Yorkshire

The way sexual health services are provided in North Yorkshire is due for an update and a public consultation starts today (August 4) on proposals which could be put into place next spring.

Since 2015, those highly rated services have been delivered through YorSexualHealth, provided by the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The current arrangements perform well, compared to similar areas in the country, ranking second from a league table of 16.

The formal agreements for providing those services, financed by North Yorkshire County Council, are reviewed periodically and it is proposed from April next year a new partnership will be established between North Yorkshire and the Trust to provide that 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 two.

Nationally, the public health grant is reducing, so that means the County Council will have less public health money available. The council has therefore been reviewing the service with York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, taking into account the changing way people have been using the service as a result of the Covid-19 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 co-ordinated 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 next year to give residents and other bodies the opportunity to comment on proposals for the way the new system would operate.

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.

“Sexual and reproductive health is not just about preventing disease or infection. It also means promoting good sexual health in a wider context, including relationships, sexuality and sexual rights. It is a vital aspect of overall health and wellbeing and of public health.

“That is shown in our performance figures, which reflect very well on those involved in delivering the services.

“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.”

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.”

Read the full proposals about changes to the service and fill in the survey at www.northyorks.gov.uk/sexualhealth

If you have difficulty accessing the information online, or need an alternative format or language, call 01609 780780. The survey will be available between 4 August 2021 and 4 October 2021

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