Sexual health

Current activity and services

Contraception and Sexual health services are delivered in a variety of settings. The main provider of contraceptive and sexual health services are Cambridgeshire Community Services who are working in partnership with Terence Higgins Trust and Brook. These services have recently moved to an integrated model where contraception, sexual health and psychosexual services are managed by one provider and where possible delivered from one hub. Some contraception and sexual health services are available through GPs and Pharmacists. These services are free, open access and confidential.

Integrated Contraceptive and Sexual Health Services (iCaSH)

Cambridgeshire Community Services together with Terence Higgins Trust (THT) and Brook provide a range of integrated contraceptive and sexual health services, for all ages, for the population of Central Bedfordshire. The open access services are based on a hub and spoke model, with the hub located in Bedford Borough at the Kings Brook Clinic and additional spokes in Central Bedfordshire. The services include: 

  • STI and HIV testing
  • Comprehensive contraceptive services
  • Treatment and partner notification for a full range of sexually transmitted infections
  • A range of sexual health information and health promotion
  • Psychosexual Therapy
  • Outreach testing and promotion and one to one intervention

The clinics aim to offer easy access to services including both drop in and pre-booked appointment clinics. There is a website providing advice and information and a single telephone number to book an appointment. The appointments include early and late appointments and specific clinics for young people under 25 years.

Due to wide geographical area in Central Bedfordshire there are clinics located in venues, such as GP Practices in Biggleswade, Leighton Buzzard, Houghton Regis and Dunstable. School-based services are available in the majority of upper schools in Central Bedfordshire, however, in recent years the number of attendances has decreased and in view of this there is a plan to review the service to identify more user friendly venues for young people to access services. Targeted outreach work is delivered to those young people identified as vulnerable, such as looked after children, young people from areas of high teenage pregnancy and young people not in employment, education or training (refer to Teenage Pregnancy JSNA Chapter for more detail). 

Psychosexual Service

Psychosexual counselling is designed to help people who may be suffering with sexual difficulties such as pain during sex for women and erectile dysfunction for men. However, more complex issues such as gender identity, sexual abuse/assault, and sexual addictions can be addressed. Referrals into the integrated service can be made from any health/social care professional or in some situations self-referral. A venue is available for easier access to Central Bedfordshire residents, as well as a venue in Bedford Borough.

Sexual Health Services in Primary Care 

Most Primary Care Practices offer access to long acting reversible contraceptives for their registered practice population. In addition, a small number of practices are commissioned to offer enhanced sexual health and contraceptive services, providing clinics which are free, confidential and open to anyone in Central Bedfordshire even if they are not registered to that practice. These services include sexual health information, testing and advice, a full range of contraceptive service, and treatment and partner notification for sexually transmitted infections.  For further details of these clinics visit the Integrated Contraception and Sexual Health services.

Condom Card Scheme

Free condoms are available for young people up to 25 years in a variety of settings, easily accessible for young people and managed and co-ordinated by the sexual health provider. Free condoms are available for all ages throughout iCaSH services and from some GP practices and pharmacies when being provided with emergency hormonal contraception or tested for a sexually transmitted infection.

Sexual Health Services in Pharmacies

Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC), Chlamydia screening and treatment are available from a number of pharmacies across Central Bedfordshire. Those pharmacies that sign up to the enhanced sexual health contract receive an annual update on sexual health which also includes pathways and information on safeguarding.

Abortion Services

Termination for pregnancy services for Bedfordshire residents are provided by Bedford Hospital, Luton and Dunstable Hospital and BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) for Bedfordshire residents. In agreement and joint working with Bedford Hospital, an  iCaSH outreach nurse runs  an  outreach contraception clinic for those under 25 years alongside the termination clinics twice a week and arranges an appointment with the sexual health and contraceptive services for those over 25.

Sexual Assault Referral Centre

The Emerald Centre is a dedicated Sexual Assault Referral Centre providing a comprehensive service to anyone who has reported a rape or sexual assault to the police and is also open to self-referral. The centre is based in Bedford and serves several local authorities including Central Bedfordshire. Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) provide on-going care and support to victims and assist the victim in accessing a range of support.

National Chlamydia Screening Programme

The National Chlamydia Screening Programme provides sexually active young people aged 15-24 with access to Chlamydia screening and treatment through a variety of settings including contraceptive and sexual health services, GPs, pharmacists and termination of pregnancy providers. Young people can also request a screening kit anonymously via ‘free test me’, an online Chlamydia screening test site.

HIV Free Postal Self- Sampling Kits

This initiative was launched in November 2015 in readiness for HIV testing week, initially supported and funded by Public Health England with local Authorities funding their own area from January 2016. People can order a free HIV sampling kit to be sent to them at the Integrated Contraception and Sexual Health services. In order to be eligible for a self-sampling kit there are a number of questions which identify those who have been at increased risk of contracting HIV. Those who do not meet the criteria can access a free HIV test at any of the sexual health clinics. If the result is positive the individual is referred to specialist HIV Care and Treatment Services for support and treatment.

Last updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017