Quality statement 4: Access to sexual health services

Quality statement

People contacting a sexual health service about a sexually transmitted infection are offered an appointment that is within 2 working days.

Rationale

Prompt access to sexual health services will promote good sexual health and reduce sexual health inequalities. Ensuring people are offered quick and easy access to support can help to reduce the likelihood of onward transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), ensuring that tests and interventions can be provided to reduce health complications. If walk-in clinics are provided there should be reasonable waiting times to encourage people to use the service.

Quality measures

Structure

Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that people contacting a sexual health service about an STI are offered an appointment that is within 2 working days.

Data source: Local data collection, such as service protocols. Included in the Department of Health and Social Care's Integrated sexual health services: a suggested national service specification.

Process

a) Proportion of contacts with a sexual health service about an STI in which an appointment that is within 2 working days, was offered.

Numerator – the number in the denominator in which an appointment that is within 2 working days, was offered.

Denominator – the number of contacts with a sexual health service about an STI.

Data source: Local data collection, such as an audit of patient health records. Included in the Department of Health and Social Care's Integrated sexual health services: national service specification.

b) Proportion of attendances at a sexual health service walk-in clinic in which the waiting time was less than 2 hours.

Numerator – the number in the denominator in which the waiting time was less than 2 hours.

Denominator – the number of attendances at a sexual health service walk-in clinic.

Data source: Local data collection, such as clinic wait time records. Included in the Department of Health and Social Care's Integrated sexual health services: national service specification.

Outcome

a) Satisfaction with access to services among people who contact sexual health services about an STI.

Data source: Local data collection, such as a patient survey.

b) Coverage of testing for STIs: proportion of people attending the service who are tested for STIs.

Data source: Local data collection, for example, the proportion of young people screened for chlamydia and HIV testing coverage are collected as part of Public Health England's Sexual and reproductive health profiles.

c) New STI diagnoses (excluding chlamydia in people aged under 25) per 100,000 people aged 15 to 64.

Data source: These data are collected as part of Public Health England's Sexual and reproductive health profiles.

d) Chlamydia detection rate per 100,000 people aged 15 to 24.

Data source: These data are collected as part of Public Health England's Sexual and reproductive health profiles.

What the quality statement means for different audiences

Service providers (sexual health services) ensure that they offer people who contact the service about an STI either an appointment or the option to attend a walk-in clinic, which is within 2 working days. Service providers ensure that walk-in clinics are sufficiently resourced so that waiting times are less than 2 hours. Providers should offer a mix of timed appointments and walk-in clinics to meet the needs of the local population.

Healthcare professionals who work in sexual health services offer people contacting the service about an STI either an appointment or the option to attend a walk-in clinic, which is within 2 working days.

Commissioners (local authorities) commission sexual health services with sufficient capacity to ensure that people contacting the service about an STI are offered either an appointment or the option to attend a walk-in clinic, which is within 2 working days, and monitor waiting times.

People who contact a sexual health service about an STI are offered either an appointment or attendance at a walk-in clinic within 2 working days. If they go to a walk-in clinic they wait no longer than 2 hours.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Sexual health services

Sexual health services include arrangements for the notification, testing, treatment and follow-up of partners of people who have an STI (partner notification).

[NICE's guideline on sexually transmitted infections and under-18 conceptions: prevention, recommendation 4]

The service should be delivered in accordance with the level 1, 2 and 3 service model. It does not include self-managed care such as home remote sampling and test kits accessed via online services.

[Department of Health and Social Care's Integrated sexual health services: a suggested national service specification]

An appointment

A scheduled time at a clinic or the option to attend a walk-in clinic.

[Expert opinion]

Equality and diversity considerations

Services should make reasonable adjustments to ensure that people with additional needs such as physical, sensory or learning disabilities, and people who do not speak or read English, or who have reduced literacy skills, can contact sexual health services to make appointments. People should have access to an interpreter or advocate if needed.

Sexual health services should be accessible for young people including those who use public transport.