Warnings raised on possible axing of sexual health services in Havering

Cllr Alex Donald

Cllr Alex Donald - Credit: Archant

Concerns have been raised about proposed cuts to sexual health services, which could see people needing to travel more than an hour for treatment.

Havering Council is looking to cut testing and treatment services for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) offered at Queen’s Hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford, and reduce the amount of family planning centres from five to one.

Under the proposal, testing and treatment for STIs would be relocated to Barking Hospital, Upney Lane, meaning 17 per cent of Havering residents would be more than an hour away from services.

Currently no Havering resident is more than an hour away from testing and treatment for STIs.

Five pop-up clinics offering contraceptive care could also be scrapped with just one clinic remaining in a “suitable location” within Romford.

This would lead to 60pc of residents being more than 30 minutes away from a family planning clinic.

The combined cost of the two services to Havering Council amounts to £2million a year – accounting for one sixth of its health budget.

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Cllr Alex Donald (East Havering Residents’ Group, Harold Wood) said: “I have spoken to local people who have raised concerns about the proposal to move sexual health services out of our borough from Queen’s to Barking Hospital.

“At a time when STI rates in London are 65 per cent higher than the national average, it seems counter-intuitive to reduce the number of facilities across our region.

“I am concerned the expected increase in travel times to over an hour for some Havering residents will also have the adverse effect of increasing the risk of infections.”

Last December, figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed Havering to be the seventh highest borough in the capital for abortion rates among under-16s with 17 abortions for every 1,000 girls in 2013.

Susan Milner, director of Public Health at Havering Council, said: “We spend a lot of money on sexual health services for Havering residents and demand for these services is increasing.

“The proposed service redesign is intended to streamline existing services and ensure that we can continue to provide high quality sexual health services within the resources we have available to us.”

Have your say at surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Sexualheath