HIV and sexual health charity, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, has welcomed the publication today of new standards that NHS sexual health services in Scotland must adhere to. The standards, published by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (NHS QIS), aim to improve sexual health and reduce rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Scotland, which are currently at record levels.
The standards set out a wide range of factors needed to provide good quality services. These include: publicising emergency contraception more widely and ensuring young people have access to it, increasing the number of women using long acting methods of contraception such as implants and injections, and guaranteeing that people contacting sexual health clinics are seen quickly.
Catherine Murphy, Policy Officer at Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland said “We need to make sure that clinics and drop-in services are up to the job of dealing with increases in STIs, so these targets are great news. To get people through the doors for testing and check-ups we have to guarantee that they will get a good service; be seen quickly, treated respectfully and in confidence.”
One area that the standards aims to improve significantly is chlamydia testing. There has been a 250% increase in diagnoses in the last 10 years; with nearly 18,000 people infected in 2007. Targets for health boards to increase chlamydia testing will mean some services in Scotland have to significantly increase the amount of chlamydia testing they do.
Catherine continues “Although these improvements are essential, clinical services alone won’t be enough turn the tide of STI diagnoses in Scotland. We need to do more to educate people about safer sex and to develop a culture that is more open and comfortable dealing with these issues. Parents, schools, local authorities and the voluntary sector all have a role to play in improving Scotland’s sexual health.”