South Shields sexual health service to reopen after big drop in young people seeking advice

Health chiefs are planning to reopen a closed sexual health service in South Shields after the number of young people seeking advice dropped by nearly a fifth.
File picture.File picture.
File picture.

After services for 19-24-year-olds were moved from Stanhope Parade to Palmer Community Hospital, in Jarrow, ‘contraceptive contacts’ in the last half of 2019 fell by 18.6%.

But now bosses say they are looking to restore some provision back at the site in order to reverse the decline.

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“Unfortunately the result of the closure of Stanhope Parade has led to a decrease in contraception access,” said Graeme Greig, a senior public health practitioner with South Tyneside Council.

“We’re working to put a clinic back into Stanhope Parade and we hope to get that provision back.”

Mr Greig was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s People Select Committee.

Coun John McCabe, the panel’s chairman, called the fall in the contraception service’s use since the move to Palmers ‘very interesting’.

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A report for councillors also raised a ‘missed opportunity’ to promote chlamydia screening among 16-24-year-olds seeking emergency contraception from pharmacies.

And Mr Greig added more could also be done to promote testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among ‘older people’.

“Alcohol is a social inhibitor and drives a certain amount of behaviour, but not just among young people,” he said.

“There’s a whole range of older people where we’re seeing a rise in STIs.

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“It’s not just a young person issue, people my age are rekindling their former youth – and maybe I should say no more.”

Palmer Community Hospital is the main specialist sexual health clinic for the borough, offering services including contraception, STI screening and pregnancy tests, as well as support and advice.

Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre, in South Shields, also offers some services.

In 2016, South Tyneside’s teenage pregnancy rate fell to 24 per 1,000, is the lowest it has been since the introduction of the ‘Teenage Pregnancy Strategy’ in 1998.

The number of people who test positive for gonorrhoea is also below the England average, while those diagnosed with genital warts and genital herpes also continues to fall.