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"Trying to get seen at the sexual health clinic."

About: Sexual health services

(as a service user),

I attended the The Hathersage Centre, 280 Upper Brook Street, Manchester, M13 0FH for the walk-in sexual health clinic. This was the 3rd time in the last fortnight that I had attempted to access this service. On the previous two occasions when my partner and I got to reception we were told that there were no more available slots, despite us arriving 10 minutes before the advertised opening time of 8: 30am.

We arrived at the clinic at 8: 20am (10 minutes before the advertised opening time) and there were a number of people in front of me. The man in front of me was told that there were no more slots that morning. When I was then seen I was told there were no more slots that morning as well. My female partner who was behind me was given another form and told that they would be able to see her this morning.

My partner and I both presented with identical information at the reception desk, namely that we were asymptomatic and wanted a sexual health check up. The only difference was that I was a man and had put that I had had sex with male partners and that she was a woman. The fact that I (and the man in front of me) were both turned away and then a woman was given an appointment shows that the service is actively discriminating against bisexual and homosexual men in favour of women.

The Trust equalities policy actively states “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender communities in Greater Manchester are less likely to access mainstream health services, including cancer screening” and it is clear to see why that is. As a nurse, I know that there is no clinical reason why an asymptomatic female patient should be prioritised over an asymptomatic male patient presenting exactly the same clinical information and risk profile.

Because of the very opaque way that patients are given slots or sent home it is not immediately apparent that such discrimination is being practiced by the reception staff and this is something that I will raise with LGBT communities in Manchester. If there was a transparent queueing system or appointment system, then it would be much harder for this discrimination to continue.

The Hathersage Centre seems to operate a procedure of having walk-in slots at 8: 30am and then 12: 30pm but if you turn up and the available slots have gone for the morning, you are not given a slot in the afternoon. You are simply told that you need to come back at 12: 30pm and try again.

I attended the Centre on three separate occasions before the advertised time slot and each time was told “sorry we are full you need to come back later” (even though women after me in the queue were given slots). On the third occasion when I said that this was the 3rd time I had tried to get a slot, I was told “we don’t do appointments and you just need to keep coming back and trying”. As far as I can tell, it could be weeks of repeatedly turning up at the door before getting access to screening services or even months.

There is no resource rationale for not offering some appointment clinics or for not allocating some afternoon slots to people who turn up at 8: 30am. The only thing it does do is allow the reception staff to pick and choose who they want to give slots to in a very opaque and clearly discriminatory fashion. If your A&E services operated like this there would be a national outcry.

I fell this system is not fair, equitable or efficient and I am sure that many people simply choose not to get tested because it is so hard to access the sexual health screening service. Manchester has one of the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the UK and I am sure that the way the service is currently running is contributing to that. Every time I have attended the clinic I have seen many people turned away and the staff seem completely indifferent to this. How many people are passing on infections in Manchester because they have simply given up trying to get into the service?


Response from Patient Experience Team, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust 4 years ago
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
Submitted on 26/06/2017 at 10:13
Published on Care Opinion at 11:30

Thank you for your feedback. I am sorry to learn that your experience when you attended the Hathersage Centre was not as positive as we would hope and thank you for taking the time to bring these issues to our attention. I understand that you are in contact with the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) for formal investigation of your concerns and response from the Trust CEO. This will give us the opportunity to thoroughly review in detail the concerns you have raised and to identify any learning points which arise. We welcome the opportunity to improve our services and your feedback will assist us with this endeavour.

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