Sexual health services; The experience of teenagers in Croydon

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Croydon spoke with 65 young people aged between 13 and 19 years old, about their experience of using sexual health services. This was carried out in March 2017. The work was done as part of a programme of engagement on sexual health services in Croydon. The report identifies a number of key issues: young people experienced access barriers to the service, such as long waiting times, short or inconvenient opening hours, and walk-in appointments; there is a lack of information of where confidential services are available; for example, some information on sexual health is shared with parents or discussed in an open reception area; the fear of being judged, nervousness and lack of confidence also act as access barriers; sexual health staff are perceived as not always welcoming and ‘just giving…opinions of lifestyle and choices rather than understanding their needs’. The report makes the following recommendations: • Accessibility: There needs to be faster access, with flexible services fixed around times and locations suited to teenagers such as evenings and weekends and more walk-in appointments. A full range of services should be at each location, especially in places where there is a greater need for sexual health services, such as New Addington. • Advertising and awareness: Ask teenagers for their views on advertising, and then target it in locations that are right for them. Materials need to be varied, not just online, with reassuring messaging. Focused marketing is needed for those • more marginalised groups such as teenage boys, black and minority ethnic groups and non-heterosexuals. • Relevant help and support: Sexual health services should focus on supporting teenagers to make informed choices. They need to recognise that feelings associated with seeking advice, information and treatment are reflected in the design of services, as well as ensuring confidentiality at all times. • Service delivery: Services between providers need to be more joined up, meeting specific needs of teenagers. This includes a more welcoming environment, appropriate staffing, and positive attitude. Involving teenagers in service design will help meet these needs. • Overarching recommendation: We recommend that Croydon teenagers are invited to assist in defining changes and improvements to the design of sexual health services in the borough. A workshop run jointly between Healthwatch Croydon, Croydon Council’s Public Health department, and service users of teenage sexual health services will support effective decision-making on the design of future services. It is anticipated that this will deliver services more effectively reflecting teenagers’ needs.

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General details

Report title 
Sexual health services; The experience of teenagers in Croydon
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Croydon
Date of publication 
Friday, 31 March, 2017
Date evidence capture began 
Wednesday, 1 March, 2017
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 31 March, 2017
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Quality of care
Staff attitudes
Waiting times and lists for treatment
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
How was the information collected? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Sexual health

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
16-17 years
Specific ethnicity if known 
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

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.