Sexual Health Services during COVID-19
Due to COVID-19 sexual health services have had to make changes to the way they work to keep you and their staff safe. All walk-in services have stopped but support is still available. To reduce face to face consultation you will now need to phone ahead of speaking to a health care professional.
Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about the changes. We hope they will be helpful and ensure you get the support you need safely.
You’ll receive a telephone call back instead of a physical appointment, usually within 24 – 48 hrs. The clinic will complete the consultation over the phone.
Where urgent face to face care is required, following the initial telephone assessment appointments, you will be advised to attend the clinic in person, . You will be given a time to attend. This is to minimise the number of people in the building to prevent the spread of the virus, keeping both you and the staff safe.
No one will be able to attend a clinic without calling and gaining an appointment first.
You will only be able to access a clinic by phone or email. This is to manage the number of people entering the building at any given time and will help reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus. It will also help balance staffing level as some staff are needed to support the direct response to COVID19 in hospitals. By reducing the service opening hours they can continue to provide a safe and effective service for you during this challenging time. Please find details on clinics webpage .
STI testing. During this time we encourage you to continue to order STI screening kits online if you have had unprotected sex and are concerned about STI's. If you are symptomatic it is advised that you contact the clinic to discuss your options for screening and treatment.
During this time, where we all need to follow social distancing, close contact including any sexual activity is not permitted with anyone outside of your household. This is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore you should not be engaging in sexual activity with new partners that you do not live with at this time.
For further information on Sex and Social Distancing see: 'Don't Hook Up during Covid-19 lockdown'
If you have symptoms of COVID19 you should following the guidance and visit 111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
The sexual health clinics will do their best to support your sexual health and reproductive needs during this time. This may mean giving advice and support over the phone, and you may be asked to come into clinic once you’re no longer consider a risk– usually 7 days later or when high temperature has resolved or have someone collect any treatment you require. However your needs will be considered on an individual basis to ensure you get the best and timely care needed so please do call the clinic.
Things like PEP and Emergency Contraception (either the emergency IUD (Intrauterine device e.g. the coil) or EHC (emergency hormonal contraception e.g. the morning after pill)) are priority services and these services will continue. When you call the Sexual Health Clinic make your concern clear and they will be able to advise the next step for you on an individual basis. For example, following an initial telephone assessment it may be quicker for you to come in to collect EHC rather than wait for the postal service. You may also be advised to take an STI screening kit.
You can also access EHC at pharmacies across Berkshire. You are always advised to call ahead to ensure they are still able to see you when you turn up. They may also do a telephone appointment before issuing EHC. If you are under 25 years of age, there are some pharmacies where you can access EHC for free.
Repeat prescriptions via home deliveries will continue.
There will be a move to telephone or video consultations. For patients who are stable it is likely that blood tests can be postponed so there will be no need for a face to face appointment at this time.
For more information on HIV and COVID19 please see Terrence Higgins Trust page https://www.tht.org.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19
Depending on the type of contraception you require you may or may not need to change to an alternative form of contraceptive.
Generally, those using or preferring to try Long Acting Contraception such as Implants, Intrauterine Devices (IUD) and/or Intrauterine System (IUS) (Coil) will not be able to have a device fitting at this time as we observe social distancing. Instead, you may be offered a safe and effective alternative to meet your contraceptive need at this time.
If you are used to pills, you may find that you are given longer prescriptions or given progesterone only pill (POP).
Further advice and guidance on alternatives have been developed by the Faculty of Reproductive and Sexual Health.
If you generally get contraception from your GP you should contact them as usual.
To get contraception from your Sexual Health Clinic* you should call:
Florey Clinic (Reading) 0118 3227202
Garden Clinic (Slough) 0300 365 7777
Consultation will continue as usual but via telephone. However, the type of contraceptive may change to minimize the need for you to come into clinic.
Repeat oral contraception will also be done via a telephone consultation and pills are being posted out. Please note that the postal service is taking much longer than usual so allow at least a week for the pills to get to you.
Once the situation eases, the intention will be to provide your usual or preferred contraception as originally planned.
* Please note that for woman aged 26 or over the Florey Clinic is unable to provide contraception without a referral letter from your GP.
For further information see advice from the Faculty of Reproductive and Sexual Health.