Hertfordshire Sexual Health Service launches text message advice line for young people
On World Sexual Health Day 2023, Sexual Health Hertfordshire is proud to announce the launch of a new text message advice line that allows local people aged 21 and under to quickly and easily contact a health advisor for confidential advice about a range of sexual health issues.
The service – ChatSexualHealthHerts – run by Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust (CLCH), offers young people who are unable to attend a clinic in person or speak on the phone a way of accessing sexual health support through their mobile phone.
The service will initially be available 1-4.30pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays and will signpost people to appropriate NHS information and services.
Teenagers and young adults in Hertfordshire can text their questions or concerns to 07312 263535 to receive help and support from a trained NHS sexual health advisor within 24 hours when contacted on a Tuesday or Thursday.
Between April 2022-March 2023, Sexual Health Hertfordshire offered more than 35,000 face-to-face and telephone consultations to residents in Hertfordshire, and more than 32,000 STI tests were ordered online in the county. It is hoped that ChatSexualHealthHerts will enable Sexual Health Hertfordshire to offer help to even more young people in Hertfordshire in a way that is more convenient for them.
The text message service will be expanded to residents of all ages in Hertfordshire in future.
Gillian Miles, Head of Clinical Services – Sexual Health Hertfordshire at Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust said:
“We know that attending a walk-in clinic doesn’t suit everyone. There is still a stigma attached to attending a sexual health clinic and some people, especially young people, may be worried about bumping into someone they know. ChatSexualHealthHerts offers teenagers and young adults in Hertfordshire a way to easily access expert, confidential sexual health advice from their mobile phones.”
Hertfordshire County Council funds CLCH to provide sexual health services in Hertfordshire. Executive Member for Public Health and Community Safety, Morris Bright MBE, said:
“As part of our commitment to ensuring every resident can have the healthiest life possible, we’re pleased that Sexual Health Hertfordshire is launching this new service that makes getting advice easy and accessible for our younger residents.
“We also know from their track record that the advice they give will be safe and expert and our young people trust the care they receive.”
The text message service is one of several new sexual health service offers for residents that comes as part of a new five-year contract to continue delivering sexual health and reproductive services in Hertfordshire, awarded to CLCH in April 2023 by Hertfordshire County Council.
As well as the text message advice line, a chatbot function – called Chat to Pat – has been added to the public-facing Sexual Health Hertfordshire website, which residents of all ages can use to find NHS sexual health information quickly, book appointments and order at-home STI tests and contraception.
Residents can continue ordering sexual health kits, oral contraception and emergency contraception online from the Sexual Health Hertfordshire website via SH:24 and now residents can order self-injectable contraception, the patch, and chlamydia treatment online too.
Sexual Health Hertfordshire continues to offer in-person sexual health and contraception services from three main clinics: Watford, Hatfield and Stevenage. Appointments can be booked by calling 0300 008 5522.
Cheshunt and Borehamwood clinics continue offering non-complex STI screening and contraception. As well as walk-in clinics, online booking is available for contraception and STI appointments at Cheshunt and Elstree Way clinics.