Sex clinic’s secret side door

What the new clinic will look like
What the new clinic will look like

By Cara Sulieman

A SEXUAL health clinic is getting a secret side door as part of a £9 million renovation – to stop embarrassed patients from being spotted.

The Edinburgh clinic is getting a refurbishment to get it up to scratch, including a three-story extension.

And people are so worried that friends and family will see them coming out of the STI hospital that bosses have built a whole new exit.

Not only has the exit been placed on a side street, but the internal layout of waiting rooms was also influenced by patient’s embarrassment.

Embarrased patients

Previously patients would have to walk through the waiting room on their way out – but now they can reach the exit without having to go through public areas of the building.

NHS Lothian thinks it is important to design the building around the needs and feelings of the patients.

Dr Gordon Scott, lead clinician for service integration in sexual health, said it was important to take patients views into consideration.

He said: “Sexual health can be a sensitive area and we want to ensure people feel comfortable using our service.

“We are on track to open as planned in 2010 and will continue to involve our patients as we develop our new integrated service further in coming months.”

Terrance Higgins Trust

And sexual health campaigners agree that anything that encourages people to get tested should be done.

Dr Alisa Spindler, the national director in Scotland for the Terrence Higgins Trust, said discretion was paramount in encouraging people to get tested.

She said: “Anything that gets people in to be tested is to be welcomed. We know from surveys that, particularly with HIV, there is a stigma attached to sexually transmitted infections.”

One stop shop

The clinic, in the old Chalmers Hospital on Lauriston Place, will allow people to be tested, diagnosed and treated in the one location.

As part of the renovation, parts of the building will be demolished and the interior will be completely revamped.

A three-story extension with a grass roof and large glass panels will be built at the back, incorporating the new secret exit.