PATIENTS living in Ceredigion can now take advantage of a new pilot service aimed at making it easier to check if they have any sexual health worries without having to see a doctor or nurse.
The three-month ’Test and Go’ pilot is a minimal contact service for people who do not have any symptoms or concerns, but who would like to take a sexual health test for peace of mind.
Patients who request the service will be invited to a specialist clinic and given a pack with instructions to test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Blood tests for HIV and syphilis can also be carried out at this time if requested.
Patients will be shown to a bathroom where they are asked to provide a swab or sample, which they simply leave in a specimen container before they leave.
Results are usually sent to patients via text message within 7-10 days, and the text message will either explain that all results are negative – meaning that no infection has been found – or, the text message will advise patients to contact the clinic to make a further appointment.
Jonathan Stevens is currently studying as a medical student in Ceredigion. He is supportive of the scheme.
“I think people would normally be nervous about going to talk to their GP about anything regarding sexual health. It is sometimes the case that if they had gone sooner, they may have avoided a certain issue they are experiencing. I like the idea (of providing kits) – it means people have more access to checking for themselves, and that is a good thing.”
The scheme is designed not just to make keeping an eye on sexual health easier, but also to help ease the long waiting times being experienced by GPs.
Local GP Dr. Sue Fish is hoping the scheme will allow for a more patient awareness, allowing for more focused time spent with GPs.
She said: “It will ease the pressures on the GP service if more people can access kits through the sexual health clinics. There is currently limited access to the sexual health services in Aberystwyth and I am not aware that the proposed scheme will increase the number of appointments available. I hope however that it will increase the availability of appointments for patients who want to be screened.”
Lisa Humphrey, Service Delivery Manager for Sexual Health and Gynaecology at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “Very often we find that patients might not have any specific symptoms to indicate a sexual health problem, but they still want to be screened anyway for their own peace of mind.
“The Test and Go pilot is about providing a quick and easy way for them to test themselves, without needing to see a doctor or nurse. This has the advantage of freeing up clinical and consultation times.”
The scheme has also received support from the social care sector. A spokesperson for Mencap, the nationwide learning disability support charity, welcomed the news.
They said: “Having discussed the scheme with several colleagues it can only be beneficial and a great support to all groups including the people we support. Mencap strive to support people to access all resources available to them within the community; a more simplified process and system will benefit all. More information regarding Test & Go would be very appreciated by the teams and some of the people we support.”
Hywel Dda’s Sexual Health Service offers open access and appointed clinics in a variety of locations offering contraception, sexual health screening, pregnancy testing, cervical screening and information and advice about sexual health. They can accessed in Ceredigion in both Aberystwyth’s North Road Clinic on Queen’s Avenue and the Cardigan & District Hospital.
For more information on ’Test and Go’ or to book an appointment, phone the Sexual Health Service on 01267 248674.