We are well pleased to announce the arrival of our new sexual health nurse, Sarah Cox, this week. Sarah will oversee all of the day-to-day operations of the service - including kit management and distribution and follow up support as well as the newer aspects that we're launching over the next few months - chlamydia treatment and contraception by post. She will also now be the person responding to your text messages.
Before she gets too busy, we asked Sarah a few questions of our own, to help you get to know a bit more about her and her experience.
What brings you here then?
Hello! I have been working as a sexual health nurse for 13 years and saw this job while working in the community sexual health clinics in Southwark and Lambeth. I had already heard about SH:24 and the amazing work of their online sexual health service and had even referred some of my patients to them. This role really excited me and I immediately thought that I wanted be involved.
Lambeth and Southwark have some of the highest rates of STI’s, HIV and teenage pregnancy in London and the UK. This combined with limitations in access to sexual health clinics and imminent cuts to sexual health services mean service providers need to think of new ways to deliver good quality services that are easy for people to access.
Online services are a good and efficient method of delivering this and SH:24 do it in a very personable and holistic way.
What are the main differences between this and the way you've worked in previous roles?
There are a lot of differences. The main difference is that I will be working with colleagues with a wide range of specialties from research colleagues, senior clinicians, public health colleagues, service developers, web designers, communications managers, commissioners… the list goes on!
By working with all of these different groups of people I know I am going to learn so much and I am very excited to be working with such an amazing team.
My other roles have had face-to-face contact with service users so this will be the biggest change for me. I will still see service users as I will regularly access Burrell Street and Kings Sexual Health clinics. I have strong working relationships with both clinics so harmonising the online work with regular clinic contact will really benefit SH:24 and the people who use the service.
What, if anything, do you see being challenging?
My first personal challenge is learning much more about IT and getting my head around the systems SH:24 use. I am keen to get up to speed with all the tricks a Mac can do.
I am sure there will be other challenges along the way too. I am looking forward to showing the benefits online sex and reproductive health services can bring to other place in the UK where using internet and home-based solutions is still quite new. Equally, I want to look at our data to see if there are any under-represented groups and how we can promote the service to them.
We’re interested to see what the demand is for webchat and online support is; I think this could be quite popular with users.
Overall I am just so excited about the journey that I am embarking on.
What are you most looking forward to about the role
Oh, where do I start?
I am looking forward to everything that SH:24 has to offer!
Training people was something I enjoyed in my other roles so I would like to do this as SH:24 expands into other services and regions. It will be great to meet and work with sexual health professionals from across the UK - finding out about how they work and how SH:24 can support their services.
I am just really excited to see where this goes and I firmly feel SH:24 is part of the solution to the challenges that sexual health services in the UK are facing.