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Alston Young Person's Clinic wins NiP Sexual Health Award

Danielle Robinson and Louise Willis at the Young Person's Clinic in Alston, Cumbria, have won the NiP Sexual Health Award, sponsored by Inverness Medical.

Young people in rural areas such as Alston have difficulty accessing confidential services, with the nearest service being 19 miles away, with very little public transport.

The local GP surgery offered sexual health services, but Danielle found by asking a number of young people that they would prefer not to discuss sexual health with the local GP, for fear it would get back to their parents who lived in the small community.

The local secondary school has a 40% population of pupils from outside the area who live in isolated villages and have no access to services.

The need for a service was recognised by a small team in Alston Community Hospital. Danielle, Staff Nurse at Alston Community Hospital and Louise, a School Nurse in Penrith and Alston, decided to run the clinic at Alston Hospital.

The building is next door to the school, is accessible for young people and offers full contraceptive services. Staff at Alston Hospital were already trained in issuing hormonal emergency contraception via a patient group directive so the service can be offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Sexual health is not the only service offered by the clinic. It is in a central position to liaise closely with other agencies and is currently working with a multi-agency team to tackle increased risk-taking behaviours that have been identified in the town. 

The service provides general health advice and has supported a number of young people with emotional and mental health concerns, linking closely with the local GP and smoking cessation officer.

The clinic has been able to participate in the National Chlamydia Screening Programme and is also acknowledged in the Connexions Young Person's Directory.

The team audit the clinic annually and feed results back to family planning and to the school. There has been positive feedback for the clinic, and both school and the community have indicated that it has improved services for young people in the area.

Louise and Danielle are very proud of what they have achieved and hope that they can take the service from strength to strength, eventually allowing the young people of Alston the same access to services as those in the local towns.