‘SWISH’ a new service aimed at improving sexual and reproductive health in Somerset has launched this month
The Somerset-wide Integrated Sexual Health Service (SWISH) is commissioned by Somerset County Council who are responsible for ensuring open access contraceptive and sexual health services, the promotion of good sexual health and HIV prevention services for their local population.
Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded the contract and will be providing a range of services including all forms of contraception and emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing, chlamydia screening and advice on sexual abuse and abortion services.
The service will provide a one-stop shop model so that people can get their contraceptive and sexual health needs met at the same time through walk-in clinics and booked appointments. Initially this will be through one of the clinics in each district but in time all of the clinics provided by the service will be able to offer most sexual health services.
The Eddystone Trust has been awarded the contract to provide HIV prevention, targeted sexual health promotion and outreach services and condom distribution schemes in addition to the support services they already provide in Somerset for people living with HIV. This will include the promotion of early HIV testing and delivery of HIV rapid results point of care testing in the community.
The two organisations will work together to deliver the new integrated SWISH service. SWISH will make sure hard to reach, vulnerable and young groups have better access to sexual health services to improve sexual health outcomes. HIV treatment services commissioned by NHS England currently remain at Musgrove Park and Yeovil District Hospitals whilst SWISH will provide sexual health and HIV support services for people living with HIV.
Cllr. Anna Groskop, Cabinet Member with responsibility for health at Somerset County Council said: “We need to make sure that prevention is at the heart of the services we provide and that people have the knowledge and confidence to make healthy contraceptive and sexual health choices, including the importance of early access for the testing of sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and HIV. We are really pleased that we are now able to provide accessible and integrated sexual health services in the community that are more convenient for our residents to use and will better suit their needs.”
Dr Nick Broughton, Chief Executive of Somerset Partnership, congratulated staff on the new service and said: “I am delighted our Trust is providing this new integrated sexual health service for Somerset. Good sexual health is so important but as a sensitive topic it can sometimes be hard for people to have the confidence to get help and advice when they need it.
“I am pleased to be here at the opening of Millstream House, our flagship clinic which offers a modern, welcoming setting that we hope will give people confidence when they seek our help and advice.”
“Together with our commissioners from Somerset County Council and our partners at The Eddystone Trust, we are working hard to make sure that everyone in Somerset has better access to sexual health services and improved sexual health outcomes.”
Andrew Evans, Director of Operations for The Eddystone Trust said:“We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to expand on the support service we already deliver in Somerset to now encompass targeted HIV prevention and sexual health promotion. We understand some of the challenges of living with HIV in mixed rural and urban areas and the challenges around stigma, disclosure and living well. We are confident in being able to continue an excellent standard of care and support to the county and are looking forward to working closely with Somerset Partnership.”
A new sexual health website has been developed for Somerset which provides information on contraception and sexual health as well as details on clinics and opening times across Somerset. It will enable users to access it from any device and includes smart features like being able to call the service direct from the site if using a smart phone and will include the ability use Google maps and Google translate. Visit the website here: www.swishservices.co.uk.
The service has a central booking line for all clinics 0300 1245010, and is developing an online booking service that is planned to go live in the summer.