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Sexual health care in Medway centralised to new Chatham premises to address teen pregnancy and cut costs

By Lizzie Massey

Sexual health care in Medway will be centralised to make it more accessible and cut costs for the council.

Currently there are seven centres around the towns where people can go for information and treatment on aspects of sexual health.

But according to Medway Council's head of Adult Services, Councillor David Brake, three of them are underused: Lordswood Community Healthy Living Centre (HLC) in Sultan Road, Medway Youth Trust in New Road, Chatham, and the Balmoral Gardens HLC in Gillingham.

Lordswood Community Healthy Living Centre. Image courtesy of Community Health Partnerships.

During a cabinet meeting yesterday councillors agreed to withdraw sexual health services from these premises - although their other services continue to run.

Sexual health services in those three centres currently costs council tax payers in excess of £200,000 per year, as a number of rooms have to be rented out and staffed .

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In comparison the overall cost of a premises in Chatham town centre - the exact location is not yet confirmed - will be around £55,000.

Cllr Brake said: "The services in centres such as Lordswood were not being used to the extent they were expected to be.

"Bringing sexual health services to Chatham's town centre, with its good transport links, will be more beneficial to the people of Medway.

Cllr David Brake

"Medway Youth Parliament were very clear, young people are sensible and take on board the responsibility of their own health and sexual health."

According to Cllr Mike O'Brien, head of Children's Services, by being more accessible the centre is also expected to "play a major part" in cutting the number of teenage pregnancies.

It is also hoped early diagnosis of HIV will be improved.

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Sexual health services for Medway residents are now the responsibility of the council after being transferred from Medway Primary Care Trust in April last year.

It was then recognised that some locations outside the town were not fit for the purpose.

For more on decisions made during the cabinet meeting pick on Friday's Medway Messenger.

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