A SEXUAL health clinic is set to be renamed because the current moniker is causing clients to be labelled “skanks”.
The name of the Chalmers Sexual Health Centre in Edinburgh, emblazoned on the building in 1ft-high letters, is putting off some patients from getting advice and treatment.
Despite the high cost of replacing the sign and changing the name, health chiefs believe it may be the only option left.
NHS Lothian received complaints from mortified patients last June, when the state-of-the-art £8million centre opened.
The sign itself was vandalised soon after it opened, with several letters from the sign ripped away from the wall.
And Lothians Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale told how she had heard teenagers saying people who went to the clinic were “skanks.”
She said at the time: “If that’s the attitude of people, it cannot be delivering for the young people who perhaps need it most.”
NHS Lothian chief executive James Barbour has now written to the MSP telling her: “Due to damage sustained as a result of vandalism, an opportunity has arisen to review the name of the clinic on the signage.
“A number of stakeholders are being consulted to decide on the appropriate wording.
“Chalmers Dental Hospital, situated opposite, will also be consulted, to ensure patients will be able to distinguish clearly between the two services.”
According to Mr Barbour, the consultation will come to an end next month and the new signs will then be put up.
Ms Dugdale said: “This is an excellent opportunity for the NHS Lothian board to fix this.
“It’s not about not excluding people from being able to access an important service, particularly young people who might be vulnerable when it comes to their own sexual health.
“The only reason it is called Chalmers Sexual Health Clinic is because there is a dental clinic across the road.
“Surely it cannot be beyond the health board to come up with a name that doesn’t involved the word sexual health but people can still find it.
“We need a name that won’t put off people who are nervous about raising some questions about their sexual health.”
Jane Morel, Scotland area manager for the Terrence Higgins Trust , said there was a difficult balancing act between trying to encourage more openness about sexual health clinics to be removed but, at the same time, it is really important there are no barriers to people accessing services.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of – it should be as normal as going to the dentist. We should not be hiding these services in dark alleys, we should be changing the culture.
“It may take a while for attitudes to change and we don’t want people to feel intimidated.”