Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, officially opened the new Contraceptive and Sexual Health Hub at Braid Valley Hospital, Ballymena.
The new facility is the first dedicated unit for the entire Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) area and will provide potential expansion in the future to deliver a whole range of services within sexual health.
Speaking at the opening, the Minister said: “I am committed to keeping the important public health issue of sexual health and wellbeing high on our agenda and facilities such as this hub are key in supporting this.
“As we progress with implementation of my vision for Health and Wellbeing, I hope to see more care service delivery hubs such as this – delivering health promotion, information, screening, treatment and support under one roof, when and where it’s needed.”
The hub facilitates an enhanced degree of access for patients to both contraception and sexual health services within the same building. This will allow an opportunity for a transformational move towards integrated services including clinics with dual trained staff who can deliver one stop shops for contraception and STI screening within one appointment.
The Minister continued: “Looking after your reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. Being confident about sexual health and contraception options can also help in developing self esteem and positive relationships.
“Sexually transmitted infections can have long-term physical effects on people’s lives, so we need to be positive about testing positive. Most STIs respond well to treatment and now even those, such as HIV that can’t be cured, can be managed with treatment. So, for anyone who is worried they have an STI, it’s vital to get tested. Knowing for sure allows you to start getting the right information, treatment and support and helps you to protect those you care about.”
Tony Stevens, Chief Executive of the Northern Trust, welcomed the Minister’s support in officially launching the service: “We are delighted to launch the first fully integrated contraceptive and sexual health clinic in the Northern Trust. This nurse-led, integrated service is a one stop shop providing a seamless service where, for the first time in the Northern Trust, a dual trained nurse practitioner will provide services which were previously only carried out by medical staff. This means patients will be able to move seamlessly between the services accessing reproductive health services and undergoing investigation and treatment of STIs within the one visit, if required.
“As well as providing an improved patient experience this also means a reduction in duplication of work providing an efficient and effective use of resources. The Contraceptive and Sexual Health Hub is the latest development in our vision to deliver integrated services in partnership with our community and I’m delighted to have the Minister’s support today as we officially launch the service.”
Notes to editors:
1. The new facility is the latest development in NHSCT sexual health services. In September a dedicated clinic for students was launched in Ulster University and NHSCT also provides a dedicated clinic for men who have sex with men to encourage regular HIV testing.
2. The Trust has centralised and co-located Family Planning and Sexual Health Services in Ballymena since June 2016 initiating the first integrated mainstream sexual health service in the north. Service users have been involved in the development of services since 2008.
3. World Aids Day is Thursday 1 December 2016. Further information on HIV/AIDS can be found at NI Direct: Information on sexually transmitted infections including HIV and where to access local services in the north can be found at http://sexualhealthni.info/
4. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
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