Anger as calls to de­lay clinic’s clo­sure are re­jected

Surrey Advertiser - - Front Page -

CAM­PAIGN­ERS fight­ing to save a sex­ual health clinic have vowed to hold Sur­rey County Coun­cil (SCC) to ac­count should any harm come to pa­tients as a re­sult of its de­ci­sion not to de­lay its clo­sure for six months.

The Blanche He­riot Unit (BHU) at St Peter’s Hos­pi­tal in Chert­sey, which serves more than 15,000 pa­tients an­nu­ally, is due to close at the end of Septem­ber, with ser­vices be­ing run at dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions across the county by new con­trac­tors Cen­tral North West Lon­don NHS Trust (CNWL).

On Septem­ber 4 SCC’s Adult and Health Se­lect Com­mit­tee re­jected calls for the sex­ual health unit to re­main open for an ex­tended pe­riod. Op­po­nents to the pro­pos­als say lives will be put at risk should the changes go ahead as planned.

Cam­paign group Health­watch Sur­rey, which was present at the meet­ing, crit­i­cised the man­ner in which the con­sul­ta­tion process had been han­dled.

In a let­ter to com­mit­tee chair­man Ken Gu­lati, Heath­watch chief ex­ec­u­tive Kate Scrib­bins said: “The en­gage­ment and con­sul­ta­tion with ser­vice users around changes to sex­ual health ser­vices in Sur­rey has not been ad­e­quate.”

Cam­paigner Stephen Fash said: “The plans are in dis­ar­ray.

“We have been call­ing for a proper, sen­si­ble and ro­bust scru­tiny of the plans and we are not go­ing away.

“We will con­tinue to ed­u­cate and sal­vage what we can from this wreck­age and we in­tend to hold our rep­re­sen­ta­tives to ac­count should any harm come to our pa­tients as a re­sult of these changes.”

Ash­ford and St Peter’s Hos­pi­tal (ASPH) says it has split BHU pa­tients into three groups: walk-in sex­ual health ser­vice pa­tients, HIV pa­tients with a range of con­di­tions vary­ing in com­plex­ity, and pa­tients with other gen­i­tal con­di­tions in­clud­ing pain and skin con­di­tions.

Un­der the plans, the hos­pi­tal said the first two groups will be trans­ferred to the new ser­vice and the third group, of around 700 pa­tients, will still have their care co­or­di­nated by ASPH and would “most likely” con­tinue to be seen at St Peter’s Hos­pi­tal.

At a pa­tient meet­ing on Au­gust 9, CNWL said it will pro­vide three main clin­ics across the county in Wok­ing, Red­hill and Guild­ford (Bury­fields).

There will also be ad­di­tional ser­vices at Leather­head Hos­pi­tal, at Ep­som Clinic and in Run­nymede and Spelthorne - although the lo­ca­tions in these fi­nal two bor­oughs have not yet been de­cided.

Dur­ing the most re­cent meet­ing, SCC said it would “es­tab­lish a task group to re­view the im­ple­men­ta­tion phase, con­sul­ta­tion process and les­sons learnt from the com­mis­sion­ing of sex­ual health and HIV ser­vices, with a view to in­form­ing fu­ture com­mis­sion­ing of ser­vices”.

An on­line pe­ti­tion, call­ing for BHU to re­main open, has gath­ered more than 2,700 sig­na­tures.

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