A recent tendering process by the CCGs and Surrey County Council appears to have stalled with the contract for sexual health provision currently up in the air. Sexual health services are currently provided by Virgin Care, Ashford and St Peters NHS FT and Frimley Health. The service was due to transfer to Central and North West London Foundation Trust on 1 April but as yet no consultation has occurred and staff are being told to close down clinics.
This means that there will be a reduced provision of services for a very vulnerable group of patients including patients with HIV and teenage pregnancy.
Sarah Dodsworth, RCN Operation Manager says: “The situation beggar’s belief. We understand that this has been referred to Public Health England but as yet there has been no resolution suggested. There will be hundreds of people across the county who, from the 1 April, may not be able to access vital support. Imagine being a teenager who discovers they are pregnant and not having anywhere to turn. That is unacceptable.”
“We have had nurses phoning us concerned at what this means for them and saddened that the services they work for are being closed down and worried that without the specialist nursing service they provide patients will suffer.”
Vicky Padbury is a specialist sexual health nurse with more than 30 years’ experience who currently works in East Surrey. She says: “This is putting young people at risk. Limiting the services they can access is short sighted and dangerous. The young people I see may not want to go to their GP or may not be able to get an appointment, they may not be able to travel to the one central clinic for services and advice. They need support in their community from specialist nurses. All services are stretched at the moment but by trying to centralise services will put patients at risk and ultimately cost the NHS more.”
The RCN is seeking urgent assurances from Surrey County Council, Public Health England and Surrey MPs.