"Sexual Health Services and Young people"

About: NHS Western Isles

(as a volunteer/advocate),

I am a support worker and helped a young female book and attend the local family planning clinic to be tested for STIs and get some contraception support.

We specifically asked on booking that a letter not be send to the patients home, however a letter was sent and the young persons mother opened the letter and read this, which caused aggravation within the home and embarrassment to the young lady.

When the young person attended their appointment, we were asked to wait amongst an ENT and Maternity clinic which the young person did not find very discreet. During the STI testing, the young person was very nervous and the GYN was not very patient, telling the young person to relax which resulted in the young person becoming very upset and leaving the room mid-screening.

This young person is unlikely to re-attend this clinic due to this experience, but I have encouraged them to go to their GP.


Response from Denise Symington, PFPI Development Officer, NHS Western Isles

Dear breezysummer

We are so sorry to hear about the experience of the young person you supported to access our contraception and sexual health service.

We are really disappointed to hear that the young person had such a bad experience and that they left feeling upset after the appointment. We acknowledge that overall this experience has fallen below the standards we would wish to achieve for our patients. However, we are glad that we have got to hear about it and get an opportunity to make sure this does not happen in the future.

Increasing access to services for young people is important to us and that we would really welcome the chance to have a chat with them about their experience to see how things could be improved. It is particularly important that we get this right for issues such as sexual health where the issues of confidentiality and stigma, particularly in rural areas can be significant.

I would like to offer my sincere apologies for the appointment letter going to the house despite the request that this should not happen. We have already spent time with our teams discussing the issue, we would normally give verbal appointments to someone that has requested not to have a letter sent to them and apologise that this didn’t happen in this case. Young people have the right to access health services in their own right (Age of Legal Capacity Act) and therefore this should not have happened.

I am sure it must have taken courage to seek this support and so I can understand the feeling of upset at not receiving the level of support they, quite rightly, expected.

I would hope that by working with us and the provision of this reassurance that they would consider returning to the clinic should this be required and that they would have a more positive experience.

Both our Senior Health Promotion Officer and our Patient Services Manager would welcome the opportunity to meet with you as the support worker, working together to improve services to the young people you work with, we feel this would help us to learn from this experience and improve our processes.

Kind regards

Denise Symington

Patient Focus Public Involvement

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