Virgin Care introduces partner notification pilot in sexual health services
Virgin Care’s Oldham, Bury and Rochdale and Teesside Sexual Health Services are piloting a new digital partner notification tool, in partnership with SXT, to help cut the spread of sexually transmitted infections in the area and increase the number of people at risk who get tested.
Patients testing positive for an STI will be offered the chance to have previous sexual partners notified that they are at risk anonymously.
People using the service will need to provide mobile phone numbers or email addresses of previous partners at the appointment, or online after the appointment.
Previous partners will then receive a text message or email to let them know they are at risk of an infection and need to be tested.
The text contains a link to find nearby sexual health services where they can book an appointment along with a unique code which, when put into the SXT website, provides more information on the infections they may be at risk of.
The pilot is running for three months at Virgin Care’s Rochdale Sexual Health Service based at Nye Bevan House on Maclure Road in Rochdale and four hubs in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Stockton on Tees.
Michala Geldard, Senior Nurse at Virgin Care’s Rochdale Sexual Health Service, said: “Notifying partners has always been an important part of the battle against the spread of sexually transmitted infections. This new tool is faster and potentially more effective way of ensuring people who are at risk get themselves tested, and don’t end up passing infections on.
“It’s hoped the opportunity to add further partners using a private online system from the comfort of home will mean people who test positive will feel more confident at notifying everyone they have had sexual contact with.”
Since 2016, Virgin Care has invested in technology to help service users improve the patient experience through online support, which has included:
- Virgin Care has reduced calls by 10% in sexual health services through the introduction of its new online Sexual Health Hub which offers appointment booking, advice and guidance, as well as access to postal testing kits (https://www.thesexualhealthhub.co.uk)
- More than 20 STI sample tests are being ordered every day online
- 11% of all bookings are made online – this rises to 25% if you include postal testing (which replaces an asymptomatic booking
- More than 11,000 people use thesexualhealthhub.co.uk to book appointments, find out service information every month and look at more than 90,000 pages of content