Table 3


Service delivery aspectPreliminary recommendations suggested from the dataLink to theme
Recovery phaseIn encouraging re-engagement with services, reassure patients of the legitimacy of their needs and staff’s non-judgemental attitude. This applies particularly to those reporting risk behaviour during the pandemic. In the longer term – and once initial backlogs are cleared – targeted campaigns may be required to encourage re-engagement with cervical screening or asymptomatic STI testing and training for providers.1
Review gatekeeping functions established during the pandemic to ensure remaining triage systems do not create additional barriers for patient access.2
Innovations to ‘usual practice’Cautiously adopt telemedicine where it can enhance convenience and enable prompt testing, diagnosis and treatment responsiveness. It should be considered in addition to face-to-face services. Effort will be required to avoid telemedicine’s unnecessary bureaucratisation, duplication or the creation of added barriers to patient access. It will be crucial to avoid exacerbating inequalities in access and digital exclusion.4
Patient preferences for telephone, video or in-person consultation should be respected where possible, as needs, preferences and concerns vary.3 and 4
Ensure gatekeepers are aware of their role within a triage system so that they can supply patients with as much accurate, up-to-date and reassuring information as possible.2
Service delivery during a pandemicPrioritise cross-sector collaboration to avoid confusion over triage, particularly between pharmacies, GPs and specialist SRH providers.2
Set up agile and accessible mechanisms for sharing learning and good practice. The COVID-19 resources and regular meetings established by the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) are a good example of this.ALL
Ensure that information (eg, booking systems, opening hours) is continuously updated to avoid confusion for patients.2
Allow patients to be accompanied during pregnancy/antenatal services, during other emotionally demanding appointments, or to help with access needs (eg, language, disability, vulnerability) wherever possible.3
Establish safe ways to help patients feel comfortable in clinic to compensate for measures such as masks or socially distanced consultations. Small gestures (such as a warm greeting) may be ‘quick wins’ reducing stress both for the patient and professional and ensuring a more personable service.3
Continue with remote provision where possible, practicable and acceptable, ensuring staff are appropriately trained and supported to provide it.4