Steve Retson Project / Sandyford Sexual Health

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland:

1) What extra services or support, if any did you provide during Covid-19?

·       Sandyford Sexual Health Services remodelled delivery of services across Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board areas at Sandyford Central.

·       Regular Appointment and Drop In Clinics for Gay and Bisexual Men were replaced with Urgent Care Clinics focussed on service users with symptoms or pain who would be seen within 48hrs.

·       FREE Condoms by Post Service replaced 500 outlets and pick up points in the NHS GGC and Lanarkshire Health Board Areas. There was a Social Media Campaign to promote this service.

·       Sandyford was the only service in Scotland which continued providing PrEp Services for Gay and Bisexual Men for those living in the NHS GGC Health Board area. PrEp (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a drug taken by HIV Negative people before and after sex that reduces the risk of getting HIV and is available Free on NHS Prescription in Scotland for MSM (Men who have Sex with Men). Elements of the PrEp service continued for anyone already using PrEp for Harm Reduction and Reducing the Risk of HIV Transmission. If someone not already prescribed PrEp before Lockdown at risk of getting HIV accessed the Urgent Care Service then they would have been offered to start it as a precaution. Service Users already taking PrEp were given Telephone appointments with a Nurse and have their Prescription sent out in the post.

·       Rape and Sexual Assault Counselling and Support Service continued.

2) Who was the target audience within the LGBT+ community?

·       Sandyford were not targeting a specific demographic. There was more of a focus on those who were symptomatic and required urgent care. The PrEp Service was aimed at existing Gay and Bisexual Male Service Users.

3) Was that the audience that engaged with the support or service?

As above, these were the people who engaged with the Services being provided. The Condom by Post Service was used by anyone over the age of sexual consent both Male and Female.

4) Would you say the services were successful?

·       Yes, given restrictions – success overall with the services being provided during the pandemic. Service users and NHS Staff found Telephone led services useful. These save time and appointment waiting times for service users and it is hoped that maybe this will continue as a long term solution to providing services.

5) What support do you feel is needed, particularly in the event of a second wave?

·       Adapt services to meet the needs of exisiting and new service users.

·       Look at reintroducing services to other client group – Non symptomatic service users maintaining good sexual and mental health.

6) Is there anything else you’d like to add which you feel would be useful for this research/project?

There is currently a joint piece of Research being done across Scotland by the Health Improvement Team at Sandyford in Glasgow and Professor Jamie Frankis from Glasgow Caledonian University who is leading the Research. This is being funded jointly by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian. SMASH (Social Media Men and Sexual and Holistic Health) Research is carried out every 3 years in Scotland, 2020 being the 3rd to date and is aimed at MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) and looks at the views, experiences and needs of Gay and Bisexual Men in Scotland. This research started at the beginning of the year and due to the current COVID Pandemic it has been extended and is now particularly interested to find out the experiences of Gay and Bisexual Men during Lockdown and the Pandemic. Feedback for this research to date has found that Gay and Bisexual Men have or are more likely to experience poor Mental Health compared to Heterosexual Men in Scotland. The COVID Pandemic has exacerbated or made this worse. The findings and outcome from this piece of Research will be published later this year.