GP practice manager hits out at planned closure of sexual health clinic

CREDIT: This story was first seen in Get Surrey

The Blanche Heriot Unit at St Peter’s Hospital is set to close at the end of September 2017, Get Surrey reports.

The practice manager of an Ashford GP surgery has said that the proposed closure of the sexual health unit at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey is “unsafe”.

The Blanche Heriot Unit, which served more than 15,000 patients in 2016, is due to close at the end of September 2017.

Nygel Glynn, Practice Manager at Studholme Medical Centre, spoke to Get Surrey about his concerns in relation to the closure.

He said: “We refer patients to the unit, it is a really crucial centre that is used for sexual health.

“The thing about sexual health is that it is very private and secondly, we have to treat it early on, if we do not have the services available, people will go untreated.

“The workload will fall back onto GPs who are not specially qualified in picking up these things.

“It’s unsafe, diagnoses are going to be missed.

“The Blanche Heriot Unit really is a world-class service, they are an excellent team.”

In 2016 Surrey County Council (SCC) and NHS England undertook a procurement exercise to provide a single integrated sexual health and HIV service.

During this process, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals (ASPH) decided it was unable to bid to retain the service and the contract was awarded to Central North West London NHS Trust (CNWL).

CNWL will provide three main clinics across the county in Woking, Redhill and Guildford but Mr Glynn thinks that this cover is not enough.

He said: “The service that is going to replace the unit is wholly inadequate.

“It will not cover everything that the Blanche Heriot Unit does.

“Guildford can also be very difficult and expensive for our patients to get to – it’s not an acceptable replacement.”

CNWL refuted the claims that the new service will be inadequate.

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A spokesperson said: “The service will not be inadequate; our doctors and nurses are very experienced, highly skilled experts in HIV and sexual health.

“CNWL’s sexual health services are rated ‘outstanding’ by the regulator and this service will have the highest standards.

“All the staff who provide the service in ASPH will be transferring to CNWL, so that their local knowledge and expertise will be available for a smooth and seamless transfer.”

The HIV and sexual health service currently at Ashford & St Peters Hospitals will transfer on October 1.

However, a spokesman for ASPH said: “Other services – genital dermatology and pelvic pain: these services won’t be transferring to CNWL and Ashford and St Peter’s is currently in discussion with our commissioners (North West Surrey CCG) so we can agree exactly where these services will be delivered from.

“It is highly likely you will continue to be seen at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals, we will be writing to you as soon as we are clear and apologise sincerely for this current uncertainty.”

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