An EU-funded cross border project has seen hundreds of patients treated for sexually transmitted infections in sexual health (GUM) clinics, which commenced on a phased basis over a four-year period across the border region.
These specialist sexual health clinics were established with European Union funding, secured by Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT), the cross border health services partnership, which successfully drew down a total of £1.6 million (€1.95 million euro equivalent) from the EU INTERREG IVA programme to invest in new and additional sexual health/GUM clinics across the border region. Across all the clinics to date, a total of 7,053 patients have been treated, exceeding the 5,000 target set for the project by the EU funders at the outset.
In the counties of Monaghan/Cavan and Louth, the three new HSE-run sexual health clinics established in this region with EU funding, have treated a total of 2,057 new patients so far. An independent assessment carried out by consultants, FGS McClure Watters, has found that the new sexual health clinics are providing excellent services, based upon the feedback from those who have accessed them. For example, in a patient survey across all the new clinics set-up, 98% of respondents rated the clinic as either ‘very good’ or ‘good.’ Also in the survey, 93.6%of patients stated that their appointment was convenient for them and 85.9% of respondents stated that the opening hours of the clinic were either ‘good’ or ‘very good.’
These locally run GUM clinics, which are free of charge to the patient, mean that people living in the these areas now have better access to high quality sexual health services. The clinics are managed and run by a specialist team providing a comprehensive service for people concerned about sexually transmitted infections and their sexual health in general. All aspects of the service, from treatment to any medication prescribed, are provided directly by the sexual health / GUM clinic, thus ensuring total confidentiality for the patient.
Dr Justin Low, HSE Infectious Diseases Consultant, said: “It is encouraging to hear that local people are aware of these new services and that people who have availed of them are impressed. With these new services, you don’t need to travel great distances to access quality GUM services if you live in the Monaghan / Cavan or Louth areas. I would encourage people with or without symptoms, or indeed anyone who wants a routine sexual health check-up to make contact with us. Confidentiality is an important aspect in the delivery of sexual health services. Our staff are professionally trained in dealing with sexual health problems and providing advice, education and information, so please contact us directly or ask your GP to make an appointment should you have any concerns.”
The Sexual Health / GUM clinic in Monaghan Hospital operates every Tuesday morning from 9am to 12.30pm. Louth County Hospital Sexual Health / GUM clinics are available Tuesday and Friday afternoons, from 2pm to 5pm. The Sexual Health / GUM clinic in Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda operates on the first and the third Friday of each month from 9am to 12:30pm.
Appointments for the clinics can be made directly Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm by calling 086 8241847. Alternatively members of the public can secure an appointment by referral from a GP or other healthcare professional.
The EU funding for the new sexual health/GUM clinics in Louth and Monaghan is scheduled to finish in May 2014. The HSE Dublin North East area is planning to mainstream these clinics within existing services after the EU funding phase.