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Changes to sexual health services

We would like to hear from our residents and interested stakeholders on new proposals to reorganise specialist sexual health services across the North East London area (NEL) which includes Tower Hamlets.

These changes should deliver more convenient, easier to use, high quality and better value services for people, patients and professionals, and we want to know what you think of our plans. Skip to the form

Why are we asking for your views?

We are responsible for resident’s sexual health services including:

  • testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and HIV; and
  • contraception including long acting reversible contraception (such as the coil or contraceptive implants) and emergency hormonal contraception (the morning after pill).

These sexual health services are funded by local councils and are free to the public. In Tower Hamlets we have high demand for sexual health services so it is a significant priority for the council. We also need to manage the rising demand for and costs of providing these services at a time when council budgets are squeezed.

What is being proposed?

Working with our neighbouring councils of Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge, we want to relocate the sexual health services currently at Whipps Cross and Newham General Hospital to a new specialist site at Stratford. The location of sexual health services at Whitechapel would remain the same, in a revamped specialist centre which integrates sexual health and contraceptive services.

Why is this being proposed?

Based on a review of sexual health services across London, we already know that we can improve sexual health services so they work better for local people and are better value for money for councils, increasing the number of people we can help.

More locally across Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge we have already talked to approximately 5,000 residents and service users to better understand what you want from the services on offer. 

The results showed that people would like:

  • services that are confidential
  • options for home testing (sampling kits)
  • more choice of services, that are also easier to access
  • flexible opening times that suit residents
  • young people’s services offered
  • integrated services (sexual health and contraception are in the same place).

Our proposals aim to deliver these requirements in the way that residents want and develop two specialist integrated sexual health and contraception centres of excellence at Stratford and Whitechapel.

This will mean that they are:

  • open longer (including evenings and Saturdays)
  • located closer to accessible transport hubs in East London and
  • provide a full range of contraception and sexual health service for our residents.

What are the details of the proposal?

Specialist Sexual Health Services

Currently there are three genito urinary medicine (GUM) clinics covering some areas in East London (mainly Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge).

These are:

  • The Ambrose King Centre, Whitechapel in Tower Hamlets
  • The Greenway Centre, Plaistow in Newham
  • Whipps Cross in Waltham Forest.

Working with the input of health professionals in sexual health, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge Councils think that:

  • Whipps Cross and Newham General GUM clinics should be merged and relocated to form an integrated sexual health and contraception centre of excellence in Stratford
  • another centre of excellence should operate in the heart of Whitechapel, building on the existing services currently Available in in the borough.

Both sites will offer a full range of contraception and treatment services, will be open longer and provide a wider range of high quality services for our residents.

Our analysis shows that the sites in Whitechapel and Stratford are the easiest to get to and are also located in the areas of most need for sexual health support.

Residents would be able to choose to use Whitechapel, Stratford or any other specialist sexual health clinics located outside of East London, depending upon their personal preference.

As is the case now, you will not need a referral from a GP to use the centres. You will also be able to choose which services to go to.

What will this mean for you?

We believe that these proposals will mean improvements in how you can be tested for sexually transmitted infection(s), that there will be more flexibility in treatments available, longer opening hours to suit residents’ lives and far easier access to contraception. We think having a centre of excellence in the heart of Whitechapel, and another close by in Stratford, is good news for Tower Hamlets residents.

What happens next?

The consultation on our proposals will run for a period of four weeks. Complete the feedback form by 12 October.

We are also holding an engagement event on 28 September, 5.30 – 7.30pm at the Idea Store, Whitechapel, 321 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1BU.

  • Feedback on the proposed changes to sexual health
  • Do you agree with the proposal to locate specialist sexual health centres of excellence in Stratford and Whitechapel?