Experiences of Sexual Health Services

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Summary of report content

Between September 2018 and February 2019, Healthwatch Cheshire East and Healthwatch Cheshire West undertook research regarding people’s experiences of using Sexual Health services. This was timed to coincide with the recommissioning process of Sexual Health Services in Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester. This work follows on from a previous report in January 2017 which looked into Sexual Health services in Cheshire West and Chester.

The research methods included:

  • Two Enter and View visits to Go Sexual Health Hubs in Macclesfield and Chester. 
  •  Desktop research of the Go Sexual Health website and sampling 10 GP Practice websites in each of Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester.
  • Two Mystery Shopper visits to Sexual Health clinics in Crewe and Winsford.
  • 199 responses to a survey of people’s experiences of Sexual Health services, available in paper or online format.
  • Targeted and general engagement events to obtain people’s views


 A number of people said they regularly use Sexual Health services but often encounter difficulties in getting appointments/accessing services due to a lack of available staff and large queues.

Most respondents to the survey stated that they had used the service for contraception. Several women told Healthwatch that they had difficulty in getting a GP appointment, therefore would attend Go Sexual Health clinics for repeat prescriptions of the contraceptive pill or that their GP did not offer coil fittings.

 Those people who had used the service for ‘testing and diagnosis’ told us they felt Go Sexual Health clinics offered a non-judgmental and supportive service.

People across Cheshire expressed concern about the lack of services available in rural communities. They stated that this is further complicated due to the lack of transport available and the limited number of clinics in the evening and at weekends.

During visits to various clinics there was clear evidence that staff delivering services have a detailed understanding of the needs of communities and work hard to overcome any challenges to provide a quality service.

The clinics and drop-ins advertised on the Go Sexual Health website are a true reflection of what is available, providing patients with confidence in the services.

GP Practice websites differ widely on the services they offer. These include those that offer a full range of services available at the surgery or local clinics to generic links to Sexual Health information leaflets. Furthermore, there is inconsistency in advice and signposting.

Body Positive deliver a wide number of outreach services across Cheshire that are aimed at both the general public and some targeted groups, such as Youth, LGBTQ+, the Homeless, and Sex Workers. However, the conversations Healthwatch have had would suggest that the knowledge of these services amongst the general public is poor, particularly in areas that do not have a Go Sexual Health Hub, and that any additional services and outreach would be welcomed and utilised.

The outreach that Body Positive undertakes within colleges is very well received by students who told Healthwatch that they regularly go for advice.


Recommendations in Cheshire East

  • Undertake a review into outreach services in small towns and rural areas, giving consideration to accessibility issues, including transport and availability and frequency of clinics.
  • Increase the number of GP Practices that offer long-acting reversible contraceptives such as coil fittings. This could reduce waiting times for fitting and address accessibility issues due to limited transport.
  • Review clinic times in consultation with local people.
  • Consider providing weekend clinics in accessible locations for both young people and those who work Monday to Friday.
  • Increase capacity within local GOSH clinics such as at Eagle Bridge Health and Wellbeing Centre.
  • Continue and increase the outreach programme delivered by Body Positive. Having a bespoke agenda for each area and audience taking into consideration cultural differences.
  • Provide consistent and easy ways to find information and advice within GP Practices and their websites.

Recommendations in Chester and Cheshire West

  • Identify challenges in promoting Sexual Health within hard to reach groups and tailor services to meet their specific needs, e.g. young people who may not attend college and are reluctant to attend GP Practices and Sexual Health clinics.
  • Consider providing weekend clinics in accessible locations for both young people and those who work during Monday to Friday.
  • Increase capacity within the Winsford GOSH Clinic at Dene Drive Primary Care Centre. This could take the form of a standalone Hub to meet the demand and provide a full range of Sexual Health services.
  • Review clinic times in consultation with local people.
  • Review the existing online and telephone booking systems to increase capacity.
  • Consider online ordering of STI tests to a wider audience.
  • Provide consistent and easy ways to find information and advice within GP Practices and their websites.
  • Improve existing provision with CCGs to provide psychosexual treatment to patients

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General details

Report title 
Experiences of Sexual Health Services
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Cheshire East
Healthwatch Cheshire West and Chester
Date of publication 
Monday, 11 November, 2019
Date evidence capture began 
Saturday, 1 September, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Thursday, 28 February, 2019
Type of report 
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Health promotion
Patient records
Quality of appointment
Quality of care
Quality of staffing
Quality of treatment
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 
Not Known

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Sexual health

Details about conditions and diseases

Conditions or diseases 
Fertility, pregnancy and childbirth
Gynaecological conditions
What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Other population characteristics 
Homeless people
People in stigmatised occupations (such as sex workers)
People who misuse drugs
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not known
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Tangible impact (not cost related)

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.