Summary of report content
This was an announced and invited visit to the clinic following a workshop held by Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire at Dunstable College with a group of students. The management team of the clinic were very keen for a group of young people to visit the clinic to provide a young person’s perspective on services offered including their observations about the venue, location and environment. Young Healthwatch attended on a Friday afternoon at 4pm, when the clinic was closed to the public, for staff training, to avoid putting service users in an uncomfortable position.
There were no obvious signs at one of the entrances to the clinic to indicate that it is a Sexual Health Clinic. Signs can provide reassurance to service users who may be feeling anxious about attending the clinic or being seen entering the clinic.
There were systems in place to ensure that service users could provide information discreetly to register. Upon entry to the clinic, two self-check in screens are available for use, but at the time of the visit neither screen worked. Another option for service users is to sign in at reception. This involved being handed a selection of documents to complete, without the need to talk to a member of staff at the desk.
There were a number of waiting rooms to allow privacy. Wifi access was available to allow people to use their phones or tablets to help them feel at ease.
Interview rooms were also available to provide a private space where questions can be asked and answered honestly without the pressure of being overlooked or heard by others.
Adjacent to this are three toilets each containing a hatch with access to the laboratory. This limits the chance of infection being spread and allows patients to leave their samples in the bathroom, avoiding the process of carrying them into the clinical room.
When the clinic collects personal information, this is stored under an ID number to reassure patients that their information is being stored safely. If staff need to share any information due to safeguarding or other issues, they will ask for consent first.
Test results are provided within 15 working days, and positive results are not sent via text message, patients will receive a personal telephone call. Positive HIV results are always relayed face to face.
The clinic has its own automated 24-hour results line which allows patients to have access to their results at any time.
There are a number of appointments available to pre-book either by calling the clinic or by booking online. These appointments are for a variety of needs such as symptomatic sexual health screening or contraception. Booked appointments are not available on a Saturday. Walk In & Wait clinics are available Monday to Saturday. The service can see a user for any kind of sexual health or contraception related query in the Walk In & Wait clinic – excluding non-emergency coil fitting. At certain times, dedicated clinics are run specifically for patients who are aged 24 and under.
The clinic can also help with pregnancy tests, and advice about their choices.
The service uses ‘Language Line’ for people who need an interpreter.
The service is well situated for people ho live in Bedfordshire and those who also live outside the area. No one is ever turned away and they are seen and treated for the service they require.
Feedback cards were available in reception. These cards were viewed weekly and encourage regular quality improvement. This system ensured the clinic offers the best services and caters to the people using them.
This is a much-needed service which really impressed all the Healthwatch representatives who attended. In the absence of service users at the time of the visit, the service appeared to be clean and organised. This allowed the space to feel safe and welcoming. The age range accessing the service emphasised the need for more clinics like this to support both teenagers and adults.
The clinic should consider extending their opening hours on a Friday to allow more young people to access the services at a more convenient time after school when they are likely to visit the town centre.
The clinic should consider developing an app to help young people book appointments at the clinic.