Demand for HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing is on the rise, but local authority budgets for sexual health services are shrinking. Unity Sexual Health provides sexual health services for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. They are redesigning their services to improve access and delivery of care, while remaining cost-effective.
At the moment, patients may have to wait over a week for chlamydia and gonorrhoea test results, and then must return to the clinic for treatment. Unity is introducing a new service where patients drop off their samples which are then checked with new rapid testing equipment, so that results, treatment and advice can be given within hours. As most sexual infections don’t cause any symptoms, early detection and treatment can help stop infections spreading and prevent serious disease developing.
We are collaborating with Unity Sexual Health to evaluate the changes to the Unity Central Health Clinic service. We will:
- Interview people who have used the service in Bristol, and staff working in the service, to find out their experiences and views. We will also observe how the new service is working in practice
- Look at data from before and after the changes, to see how the new service affects the cost and delivery of care
Brighton and Hove Sexual Health & Contraception Service are involved in this part of the study, so we can compare the service changes in Bristol with a similar service where the changes haven’t been made.
The project will give Unity swift feedback on how the new service is working for different patients and staff, and allow them to make changes if necessary. It will also provide valuable information for policymakers and healthcare professionals across the UK who may be interested in setting up similar rapid results services.
- Dr Patrick Horner, Unity Sexual Health
- Dr Suneeta Suni, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust