Havering council alongside Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust have suggested that the centralisation of sexual health services for the three boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge at Barking Hospital would be a positive move forward for sexual healthcare, increasing efficiency and quality of service. Barking Hospital has been chosen as the preferred location for centralised care due to its good public transport links, parking, co-location with HIV treatment services which are also provided from Barking Hospital would generate additional savings (as staff are shared between the two services), and finally freed space at Queens would be used to improve other health care services.
Whilst centralisation of sexual health services has many positive aspects, there is also a downside, having a negative effect on Queens Hospital, where many sexual health services are currently located. It has been suggested that Havering patients of low risk could be directed towards community based family planning clinics in future, and from 2017/18, web based sexual health service will launch in London, offering self-administered Sexually Transmitted Infection testing.
Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham commented: "The centralisation of services does have its benefits, but my main concern is the accessibility of these services for my constituents across Rainham, South Hornchurch and Elm Park. Recently, the renal unit was moved from Queens Hospital and with the further centralisation of services I will be seeking a reassurance that services will not be reduced as a result."
The Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust acknowledges the move from Queens Hospital to Barking Hospital would increase travel times for residents of Havering. Currently all Havering residents are within an hour of sexual health service. Moving to Barking would place 17% of Havering residents more than an hour from Sexual health services and 1% would be more than 70 minutes away. Many residents across the three boroughs are likely to be affected are the busy mothers and young people, who currently utilise the accessibility of sexual services. Many will find accessing centralised services at Barking difficult, but in many cases they will be unlikely to protest due to unwillingness to disclose their use of these vital services.
To read the paper outlining the reasoning for the move, and to download the survey allowing you to have your say visit: https://www.havering.gov.uk/Pages/Category/Public-Health. Or visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Sexualheath. The survey closes on Tuesday, 5th July 2016.
Jon added: "I think a move of any widely used services must have the buy in of local people, that is why I am urging residents from across my constituency to take part in this consultation process."
Queens Hospital has fallen victim to large cuts in funding over the last few years. According to the latest assessment by the Care Quality Commission, Queens Hospital requires improvement, and improvements are highly unlikely to result from the systematic removal of services, relocating or closing healthcare departments. Mr Cruddas concluded: "It is important to me that my constituents get the best service possible, and access to good quality healthcare".