There’s no escaping the fact that life has been particularly challenging and unsettling at times during 2020/2021 – it’s safe to say last year has been like no other.
Although it’s been a time of uncertainty, it’s also been a time for significant change in the way patients and service users receive care and support.
Through innovative ways of delivering care and adapting to new ways of working, NHS health and care services have continued to support people and their families.
Our teams have gone above and beyond to keep people and colleagues safe and they have adapted to change – from finding innovative ways of working, to taking on new roles entirely.
This week I’d like to shine the spotlight on our sexual health and contraception service – Sexual Health Wirral.
The team has embraced the biggest challenge the health and care system has faced. Whilst their usual busy walk-in and wait clinics were suspended to ensure the safety of patients and staff, services continued to run, using more innovative, digital, and remote ways to deliver care and support whilst remaining accessible to all.
Since March 2020, the service has provided daily telephone consultations for their patients. Video consultations soon followed, alongside face-to-face clinic appointments for those who needed them.
These new ways of working have been well received, with patients feeling confident that they are still receiving the same high-quality care they expect, but in an albeit slightly different way.
We know from wider feedback that providing care via telephone and video consultations has also suited some people with caring responsibilities and work commitments.
Here’s just a snippet from what our patients say about our services: “the staff are very supportive”, “staff were non-judgmental, a friendly team”, “the staff were really informative and made me feel comfortable”.
The service’s dedicated website – www.sexualhealthwirral.nhs.uk – has received over 272,000 views during the last year.
During the height of the pandemic the website was a central hub of information for people.
It enabled patients to continue to access a range of sexual health and contraceptive support at the click of a button, from accessing Q&As, downloading e-leaflets about various topics, including self-management advice and locating community pharmacies offering emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) sometimes known as the morning after pill, to ordering an STI postal test kit delivered to their door.
The free and easy to use postal STI kits are sent out in discreet packaging, with people being tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, as well as HIV and Syphilis.
Every month the team sends out over 700 STI kits ordered online to people across Wirral, aged 16 plus. Results are text and when required, follow up appointments are made for treatment and support.
Our service also works in partnership with a number of GP surgeries across Wirral to ensure that local people can access coils and implants (Long Acting Reversible Contraception) in locations closer to home.
Although our service is operating slightly differently with new ways of working, our team are always here for you.
If you need to speak to someone for any your sexual health or contraceptive needs please call 0300 123 5474, Monday to Friday, 8am-5pm, where you can access care and support or request an appointment. You can also stay up to date with service news via the website or Facebook @SHWirral.
Remember, it’s Cervical Screening Week next month. Cervical screening (smear test) is a free health test available on the NHS as part of the national cervical screening programme.
It helps prevent cervical cancer by checking for a virus called high-risk HPV and cervical cell changes.
Attending cervical screenings is important and is the best way to protect against cervical cancer and prevents over seven in 10 diagnoses.
After you receive your invitation to attend your screening please contact your GP. You can find more information via the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website – www.jostrust.org.uk