Sexual health clinic in Chichester set to close

Chapel Street clinic'''Picture by Louise Adams C131561-1 Chi Chapel Clinic
Chapel Street clinic'''Picture by Louise Adams C131561-1 Chi Chapel Clinic

A POPULAR sexual health clinic in the city centre is set to be axed – two years after the public cried out to save it.

Health bosses at Western Sussex NHS Foundation Trust have announced plans to shut the clinic and run all the services from St Richard’s Hospital.

But campaigners are digging their heels in once again – arguing the public should have choice when it comes to family planning.

“If it was to close it will diminish patient choice,” said Liz Brown, who is a former family planning nurse at the clinic and now a specialist nurse in family health.

“It is user friendly. You need easy access, I would see it as a loss to the community.

“The hospital is a walk away from the town centre. If the service is relocated to the hospital, not only will people have to pay for parking but the problem becomes medical rather than clinical.

“At the clinic, people aren’t just saying ‘here is the next pack of pills’, they are giving choice.”

A public consultation is underway, asking people which services they ‘want and need’.

But an anonymous letter sent to the Observer said the survey is a ‘sham’ – as patients ‘don’t have the option of saying they want it to remain’.

The clinic offers sexual health and contraception advice and walk-in sessions.

One Chichester resident, who didn’t want to be named, has worked in a city high school.

“It’s so important there is an accessible place in the middle of the city where people – especially young people – can go,” she said.

“The clinic is so personal and they have a lovely approach. I think there are going to be a lot of young people who will miss out on this service if it gets moved.

“The hospital is like a sausage factory really.

“That is the best way of describing it.

“People don’t want to go to hospital for things like this.”

Jeannie Baumann, director of clinical services for women and children’s health at Western Sussex Hospitals said: “Sexual health services in Chichester are currently split between two sites, and we believe bringing them together will mean that patients get a better service.

“Most colleagues generally support the plan, although of course a small number of people have expressed concerns.”

She said having everything in one place would be more convenient for clients.