Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1000-1019)



  1000. It brings it home that it is something you catch?
  (Ms Ward) Yes.

  1001. To both groups, we heard from the previous witnesses that access to sexual health services is very difficult, that they are hidden behind Boots or wherever it is. Is that the same in your area? Would you know, if you needed to, where to go? Could you find sexual health clinics?
  (Ms Eagle) There are not many places I know about, but when I went to the YMTB they gave me a leaflet on everything and phone numbers and everything like that, so if I need to get hold of anyone I can just ring them and they can tell me where it is then.

  1002. So with TB you got the services very easily?
  (Ms Eagle) Young Mothers-to-Be, yes.

  1003. Again, are your services hidden or would you know where to find them if necessary?
  (Mr Bailey) You could know where to find them but the waiting lists—
  (Ms Ward) Only for some. It is just like our GUM clinics. They are three weeks waiting lists and it is appointment only, but that is for SDIs and stuff like that. We have got a Brooke service—I do not know if you have heard of it—which is really popular in Wigan for the young people. Like the young man was saying before in the other group about having young men sessions, Brooke in Wigan are starting up a young men's session. Because of our outreach work we have had information back off them, that they feel that they cannot go and sit in a waiting room and they feel a bit intimidated, "Oh, that's my girlfriend's mate over there", and they say, "I'm waiting for my girlfriend"; they make up excuses and then the nurse will shout out their name and they say, "It isn't me, it isn't me". They always wait till last to go in when everyone has gone because they seemed ashamed. At the end of the day I do not think they should be separated but because of the information we have had back they have got a session opening for young men.
  (Mr Williams) The GUM clinic, we have found a lot of problems with it actually. We have got quite a big list. We found out that it is just geographically inaccessible. I live in Lowton and the nearest one to me would either be Wigan, which is seven miles away, or Bolton, which is another, say, seven miles away, so the accessibility for these clinics is not that good. Whether it is because funding or whatever, I do not know, but they should be widely accessible

Andy Burnham

  1004. It is a long bus ride, is it not?
  (Mr Williams) It is, actually, and if you go there and you find you cannot see someone, you think, "Oh well, I will not come again then". This waiting list we were talking about last night in the hotel. We rang up for someone to ask for an appointment and we were quoted a three-week waiting list. If you have got an STI and you are waiting three weeks, the mental frustration and worry you go through—

  1005. That is at Wigan Infirmary?
  (Ms Ward) There is a Bolton one.

  1006. Bolton was a three-week wait, was it?
  (Ms Minty) Yes. It can be longer in some cases. Say, for example, you are a young gay man and you wanted to go for HIV screening and the waiting list was phenomenal. There is a three-month gap before you get the results and that three months is so traumatic for a person sat there thinking, "What if the results are positive?"

  1007. Is it your view that young people need more services?
  (Ms Ward) We need more services and easy to get to.

Dr Naysmith

  1008. Even before you get there and start looking for a place, how do people know it exists?
  (Ms Ward) It is either word of mouth, youth workers, or posters, advertisements. Because we have got Brooke this is where all the posters—I have got posters and leaflets for Sex Talkers(?) and Brooke. It is very colourful and bold and really noticeable. This is for our Sex Talkers thing but this is where they go. We have had some put up in college but they are just ripped down by young people because they see it as offensive and they do not like seeing it.

  Dr Naysmith: Despite your work, and it is obviously great—I like that poster. Can you hold it up again—

  Chairman: Can you leave it with the Committee?

Dr Naysmith

  1009. Despite your work, how many people know about it?
  (Ms Ward) We have got a pack of all of our stuff.

  1010. Have you any information on how many people know about or how widespread it is?
  (Ms Ward) I have done my own research with my young people round our area. Because they all know me and why I am a peer educator they all seem to come to me and I direct them in the same way, but some people that I do not know, they do not like going to their GPs because it is not confidential. If you go for a HIV test it is then on your record and when you go to a job, even if you have not got HIV or AIDS it is still on your record that you have been for one, and it can be very judgmental. Your local clinics and stuff like that, which is for young groups, it is not really aimed at young people, like they were saying about the young, friendly clinics and it is not.

Dr Taylor

  1011. GUM clinics are terribly overstretched throughout the country and they are relatively few and far between. Where I live the nearest one is 18 miles away. One answer to this that clinics near me are doing and others that we have heard about is that they have scrubbed the appointment system and you have to ring up the day before from eight o'clock onwards to make an appointment for the next day. Obviously, the appointments for the next day are all filled in the first half to one hour but people, from what I have gathered, appreciate this as a way of getting an appointment the next day. Even if you miss it one day then you get in even earlier the next day. How would that strike you as a system?
  (Mr Williams) I think it would be a good system.
  (Ms Ward) You are thinking, "Oh, I have got three weeks to wait. I am not even going to bother ringing up", whereas if you actually ring up you might have a chance of being seen in three or four days.

  1012. I think a lot of places are doing this because by having a six-week/three-week wait, people do not turn up and there are wasted appointments.
  (Ms Minty) I think they will also to look at the opening times because our local clinic is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between quarter past one and four o'clock. Obviously, most people under the age of 16 are in some kind of education. How can you go out of schooling to go to a clinic like that? It is not possible.

  1013. There is no weekend opening at all?
  (Ms Minty) No, nothing at all.
  (Ms Ward) Brooke, because it is for young people and is serviced by young people, we specialise for young people. Our opening times are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday daytimes, which is four till 6.30, because we thought that Mums might be worried that their kids are coming home from school, "Why are you home from school so late?", and then they get into trouble, so we have a Saturday afternoon which is two till 4.30 so they could just be going shopping.

  1014. In Manchester they bring a lot of medical services into the Brooke centre there. Is that something you would like to do if you could do it?
  (Ms Ward) If you could, but it is staffing it and getting the funding for it because we are really struggling with funding at the moment.

Dr Taylor

  1015. In Swindon or Wigan do you have anything like the Options Clinic that we heard about from Wakefield?
  (Ms Ward) That is what Brooke is.

  1016. Brooke does the same thing?
  (Ms Ward) Yes.


  1017. Nothing in Swindon?
  (Ms Eagle) There is the Confine Clinic.

  1018. And that is for young people only?
  (Ms Eagle) Yes, I think so.

Julia Drown

  1019. You will have heard from the last group that they did some research on the influences on people in terms of when people might have sex, issues about sex relationships and sexual health, and their research came out with alcohol being the biggest influence and peer pressure, and the media was lower down. In your experience is that the same? Is that what you think from you and your friends?
  (Ms Eagle) Yes.

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