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Message from Frances Hasler – Healthwatch Camden, Director: Meeting with CNWL about Margaret Pyke

The Margaret Pyke Centre is a well-known clinic, providing contraception and other sexual health services to women in Camden, Islington and beyond. Around 40% of the service users come from Camden and Islington, the rest from elsewhere.

It has recently been in the news because there are discussions about relocating it from its current building, in Wicklow Street. Healthwatch Camden has received lots of messages about it, from service users and from health professionals, including GPs and midwives. So we went to see Claire Murdoch, the Chief Executive of Central and North West London (CNWL) NHS Trust that runs the service.

We talked to Claire and to Danielle Mersey and Mark Maguire, senior staff from the service. We shared the comments we have had. People have told us that the Margaret Pyke Centre is really important because it is a safe, welcoming space for women. It provides services they can’t easily get from their GP. It provides essential training and advice for GPs. It provides a highly appreciated London-wide service. Safe, reliable contraception is an equality issue; having control of your fertility is essential for being in control of your life. In public health terms, preventing unwanted pregnancy is a good investment.

CNWL told us that they understand how valuable it is. They explained that the money they get to run the contraception service is not enough to meet its costs. The two big costs of running the service are staff and buildings, and they do not want to cut staff, which is why they are looking at moving the service. They provide contraceptive services from the Archway Centre and Mortimer Market as well as some community clinics. Plans are at an early stage, they have not been discussed by the trust board yet.

Healthwatch Camden want to make sure that service users’ voices are included in all the discussions. We want to make sure that plans take account of equality issues for women, and result in real choice for women. We offered to help the trust to get views from women in Camden.

Claire Murdoch told us that they agree with a lot of what we said. They want a lot more communication about the changes. They want to maintain the training. Very importantly, they are committed to keeping the ‘essence’ of the Margaret Pyke service, wherever it is located.

Healthwatch Camden agreed to help gather the views of people in Camden about the service. We also agreed to share with the trust a summary of what people have told us so far. We would like people to continue to send us your views and experience of the service. If you are a user, what do you value about the service? If it is relocated, what would be your concerns? Please let us know. We will never pass on your name or other personal details unless you give us permission.

Other sexual health news

The Margaret Pyke Centre is not the only sexual health service under discussion. The London Sexual Health Services Transformation Project has brought together 22 London boroughs to deliver a new collaborative commissioning model for open access sexual health services across much of the capital, including Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) (services for the screening and treatment of Sexually Transmitted infections (STIs) and Sexual and Reproductive Health Services (SRH) (community contraceptive services).  

Healthwatch Camden will be joining with other local Healthwatch across London to make sure that Londoners get a say in future developments of sexual health services.

See our previous post on the Margaret Pyke Centre.

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