Agenda item

Sexual Health Services Update

The Committee will receive an update on Sexual Health Services.


The Committee received a presentation from Martin White, Consultant in Public Health, Reading Borough Council; Rachel Smart, Lead Nurse, Florey Clinic, Royal Berkshire Hospital Foundation Trust; Alan Tang, Consultant in Sexual Health and HIV, Florey Clinic, Royal Berkshire Hospital Foundation Trust on the integrated sexual health service in Reading.

The presentation included the following points:

  • A report from the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in June 2023 had said that overall infections rates were lower in the Southeast, however, some areas such as Reading were reporting rates above the national average.
  • An overview of the commissioning arrangements for the integrated sexual health service in Reading which included the local authority, Integrated Care Boards and NHS England.
  • The local integrated sexual health service was provided by the Royal Berkshire Hospital Foundation Trust (RBFT) following an award of contract in 2020 and would run for 10 years. This was joint funded by the three local authorities of Berkshire West.
  • The contract value was £2.56m with Reading Borough Council contribution of £1.4m.
  • The service included screening and STI testing and diagnosis of HIV, and additional services including sexual health advice and contraceptive services.
  • Pre-pandemic testing rates for STIs in Reading had been significantly above Regional and National averages.  Following the pandemic testing rates in Reading had not reduced to the same degree as the England rate.
  • New STI diagnoses had dropped dramatically with the onset of COVID 19 and had continued to decrease in 2021 and 2022.
  • There had been a decrease in diagnosis rates in Reading accompanied by a decrease in percent positivity. The opposite pattern was seen in the Southeast and England.
  • Due to good access to remote and face to face testing during various lockdowns the rebound in STI service provision between 2021 and 2022 seen nationally was not reflected in the GUM and Contraception attendances at the Florey Clinic.  However there had been an increase in more complex patient cases with more social or sexual health care needs during this period.
  • The service met regularly with the Reading commissioning team and West Berkshire and Wokingham to consider the current key performance indicators.  The KPIs had been reviewed over the year.
  • Significant work had been undertaken to improve the uptake of chlamydia testing for 15-24-year-olds.  This had included an improved outreach service, improving social media campaigns, attending University and colleges, and enabling under 18s to access the service.
  • Following service user feedback other improvements had included changes to the opening hours at the clinic with late and early start times, adoption of a walk-in and appointment services, and improving and developing online services.
  • The Florey Clinic had established additional funding for groups of service users such as refugee and asylum seekers and the LGBTQA+ community.
  • Improvements were being undertaken to data and joint working on KPIs with commissioning teams.
  • Additional work of the service had included promotion of other services for high risk STIs by working with universities, colleges, charities, and PRIDE, improvements in outreach work, and new projects providing education sessions and STI testing.
  • Other work was undertaken with social care and police with staff members attending child exploitation meetings.  Also, dealing with mental health and domestic violence concerns, as the service actively asked about domestic violence and this was often disclosed during private meetings with patients.
  • The team had also continued to work with the Royal Berkshire Hospital to improve opportunistic testing for sexually transmitted infections and education on testing.
  • Reading had seen an increase in overall positive STI diagnoses but this was less than seen nationally. However, STI rates would be monitored and reviewed to consider any continued rise.
  • Work of the service would continue to be supported via the wider safe sex educational campaigns and prevention activity commissioned by the local public health teams.
  • Work would also continue with the service provider to assess and ensure the longer-term sustainability of the service in the face of increasing activity and cost pressures.

The Committee thanked Martin, Rachel and Alan for the information and requested that a future report be provided on the work with young people and the sexual health service.

Resolved -    That a further report/presentation be provided to the Committee in 12 months and for it to include the work being carried out with young people.

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