BY IN Save Our Service 11 COMMENTS

sosPLEASE NOTE: The below campaign has been produced by the Hawthorn House and Birmingham HIV Patient user group and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Trust. We post it to this website as part of our ongoing commitment to providing patients and service users a voice, and promoting public advocacy from those people living with HIV.

A message from the Hawthorn House and  Birmingham Heartlands HIV Service Patient Forum  

The Heartlands HIV Service may be under threat as a result of the potential loss of our Sexual Health & GUM service. We need your help!

Due to changes to the way in which NHS services are paid for, local councils are now responsible for deciding how sexual health clinics are delivered in their regions. In Birmingham, we have recently gone through a lengthy and costly tender process which has resulted in Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust failing to win the only contract available – to deliver sexual health services across Birmingham.

While the national government will remain in charge of HIV services, and therefore continue to pay for the service at Heartlands, losing the sexual health and GUM clinic alongside which works  so well – and with whom they share so many staff – will seriously impact upon the HIV service here, and, experts believe, could eventually lead to the closure of this and many other HIV services nationwide, as the “economic model” simply becomes untenable.

Can you help us Save Our Service? Please leave a comment on this page about why you think Hawthorn House must be saved – every single comment, and every single patient calling for Hawthorn House to continue to provide both HIV and GUM services, could make a difference.

You can also let us know your thoughts using Twitter and Facebook.

Finally, you can sign our petition here.

Thank you.

 Dez Barrett and Tom Matthews
On behalf of the Hawthorn House and  Birmingham Heartlands HIV Service Patient User Group


  1. Leigh |

    To close down Hawthorn house will discourage people going elsewhere, or finding another place for sexual check ups, there is a great amount of people that ignore these problems, especially if they find it difficult to find these services. To be honest there needs to be more places like this all over Birmingham.

  2. Jayne 1085573 B74 |

    I am writing as a user of the HIV service at Heartlands Hospital to express my concern at the intended closure of the GU service and the potential detrimental effect this would have on the adjacent HIV service. The service provided has enabled me to be able to work full-time and to anticipate a full life expectancy. It has supported me through the emotional challenges of living with a condition which even today one has to keep secret from ones colleagues, friends and family. The staff at Heartlands are non prejudicial and provide a wealth of expertise in a personal and friendly way. Any threat to this provision would be detrimental to my well being. Were the services to be moved elsewhere I and many others in my position would lose the security of this safe and warm environment in which we receive our life sustaining care.

  3. michael |

    Hawthorne House provides a unique approach to HIV / sexual health care, that looks after the entire sexual health spectrum, including the mental health aspects of patient care. I have personally benefited enormously from this joined up holistic approach. To jeopardize that by separating out the GUM provision is tantamount to recklessness on behalf of the council. I pray they see sense and reverse this terrible decision.

  4. Nunga |

    As open as parents can be , we are not the 1st person teenager come to when they are concern about their sexual health. So, when I look through the window and see those teenagers taking their picture with the logo in their way in the GUM clinic, it make me smile but also as a mother of teenagers I found it reassuring that ,if needed my daughter and her friends have a handy local Sexual Health Clinic they can go if they feel the need. Loosing Heartland GUM is worrying for me as the probability of those young people to travel miles for testing , treatment and advise is very slim. This mean more Chlamydia and gonorrhea will go undiagnosed and untreated amount our young people.
    On the other hand, I am a staff nurse in HIV clinic, and, every day, we escort patient (that initially come to the HIV clinic for blood test or consultation) to Hawthorn House for Sexual Health Nurses or Health Adviser interventions, either screening and treatment for STI, contact tracing, disclosure to new partner, etc..
    Most of our ladies prefer to have their annual smear test done at Hawthorn House than at their GP . By loosing Hawthorn House, patients will loose also this continuity of care that they love.
    I am sure that loosing Hawthorn House will have a negative impact on the High Standard of Care that our HIV Clinic aims to provide. But also, it will increase the infection rates of HIV and STI among the young population of this area of Birmingham.
    This is why as a PARENT 1st and a Staff Nurse, I am very concern about the treat Hawthorn House GUM is under

  5. Jeff |

    At a time when we are looking to reduce costs whilst maintaining care standards we need to be mindful of the long term impact of our decisions. The services at the Heartlands Hospital are but one example of a decision made with only the short term impact considered. It’s not about convenience or having to make cuts during times of austerity it is about people’s lives at a time when over half of HIV positive patients are yet to be diagnosed. There are many examples of failure to protect sexual health services and the horrendous consequences seen some years later.
    I have nothing but admiration for the staff at Heartlands and the valuable charity work they do(Saving Lives) However, pleasant and resourceful the staff the synergy of having two services side by side cannot and should not be lost. How will Birmingham cope with increasing rates of HIV detection at a time when they are removing testing, prevention and accessibility of key services. The plans impact on the most vulnerable patients and living with a stigma which prevent those in need for speaking up. Any withdrawal in cancer services would not be so hastily considered.
    It is easy to say there has to be cuts but this is the start of a vicious downward spiral. Please, please re-consider on behalf of those people who will have to pay the consequences of your decision. If it were to impact on your son or daughter would you be making the same decision???
    Kind Regards,

  6. Maz |

    Hawthorn House, is a very good sevice as it covers the whole range from GU contraception ED, Syco sexual skin clinic recurant thrush and herpes, linked with the HIV patients and its all under one roof just tell me where else you can get this sevice this side of birmingham. The staff here are very profesional welcoming and always go the extra mile to deal with who ever walks through our doors so please have your say and pass this on to everyone you know.

  7. wayne |

    It is stated in city council papers that the intention for a one provider across Birmingham would result in an integrated approach to managing sexual health outcomes across the city and that previously, where more than one provider has delivered services, the outcomes are not deemed as effective. I totally disagree with this.

    I struggle to understand how, me…as an HIV patient at Heartlands that this new approach of having one provider t oversee my HIV treatment and another provider to oversee any other sexual health issue that I may experience in the future is a better outcome. This isn’t integrated and I am already worrying about the risks and quality factors of this ridiculous approach.

    It is also important to note that sexual health is not a subject that the public deal with like all other aspects of their health. Although difficult to measure, I can only see that closing long existing and quality services will have a dramatic and negative impact on the public who have come to trust and feel comfortable with the location, the long serving committed staff and the quality of care experienced at Heartlands. This to me will adversely impact upon the sexual health outcomes that the city council is claiming to address by only having one provider of sexual health across Birmingham. This approach dissects services such as HIV and mainstream sexual health services at Heartlands. Shame on the City Council.

    Anyone who has been and experienced the expertise of the sexual health services at Heartlands should protest against this decision and write to their Elected Member of the council and to their MP also.

  8. Sean |

    This ‘combined’ service is vital. There is no question that without the skill and care exercised by the staff in this department, I would not be alive today. They give hope and empowerment to all service users and the clinical benefits of having both services together, in my view, far outweighs separating them. Patients may be less likely to go for routine sexual health screening which can be done during the same appointment at Heartlands. The specialist staff at both centres have hundreds of years of combined skill and knowledge of the conditions, treatments, psycho-social problems etc and they can offer you the best care based on their clinical knowledge but most importantly, their personal knowledge of patients as people whom they know well.
    The support staff are professional, polite, humane and friendly; patients are made to feel at ease.
    I’ve traveled over 120 miles at times to attend this clinic and would not change the service in any way. I trust everyone who deals with me. If the service were to close, I’d be concerned for my own health as I have experienced poor and insensitive care elsewhere and do not build clinical relationships easily. Please; whoever is responsible for reviewing this service, think twoce about ‘cost’…the economic benefits of patients remaining physically and mentally well as a result of the services are worth more to patients and the economy!!

  9. Sandra |

    I am deeply worried about the future of the HIV service and how it will function without the accessibility of G.U. Clinic situated next door. Most of our patients find the location of G.U. clinic very convenient as they are able to access all services on one clinical visit as opposed to travelling to another site for their sexual health screens. Bearing in mind most of our patients are displaced asylum seekers who have transport and monetary problems that enable them to attend clinical appointments which at times are often HIV and Sexual health appointments. I cannot imagine the negative impact on this group of patients if they now have to travel elsewhere to access a service which was conveniently located next door. Yes we can argue along the lines of patients’ have to adapt to change but I feel these patients will be lost to follow up if they struggle to travel to a separate G.U. and the cost of booking interpreters for some of the patients will no doubt increase and have a negative impact on the cost of both services.

    The cohort of patients who travel from abroad and are seen in this clinic and G.U. will also be hugely affected as the aim is always to provide an efficient and high standard of care which is demonstrated by the two services running alongside. The move of G.U. will also disrupt the excellent function of the Annual health clinic which patients graded as an excellent service (Clinical audit 2012) as they did not have to travel a long distance and benefited from the One-stop-clinic. The continuity of care for patients provided by the HIV consultants when they work in G.U. will sadly no longer exist. The opportunity of accessing Health advisors promptly when an issue arises in clinic with patients will have a negative impact on the HIV services as some of these issues would have been resolved promptly but with G.U. moving patients’ have to make appointments and have a longer waiting period. Efficient referrals of newly diagnosed patients to be seen by clinical nurse specialists from health advisors in G.U. will be disrupted because we cannot attend to them as promptly if G.U. moved.

    We have staff who are dual qualified (HIV/Sexual Health) who maintain their professional development and work experience through practising their sexual health skills in G.U. Sadly this learning opportunity will no longer exist if the G.U service were to move. Certainly the future of HIV services is somewhat bleak from where I stand without the location of our dedicated team of Doctors, Nurses, Health Advisors, In-House teaching service and all the other professionals in Sexual Health Service Hawthorn House.

  10. David |

    I transferred to Heartlands from Coventry and the level of support and care I have had from the team in Hawthorn House: health advisors, Nathasha Anderson etc has been excellent. The joined up care and service with Hawthorn House being co-located with the ID department cannot be understated: literally the support and care I have received from everyone at Heartlands this year has saved my life. I don’t wish to think where I might be now if I hadn’t been a patient at Heartlands.

    I am appalled that Birmingham City Council might close or change any of these services and am very passionate about trying to help in anyway I can to prevent this.

  11. Karen |

    Dear Sir/ Madam
    I am writing to express my concern about the STI testing service (that is part of the HIV clinic that I have been attending at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham for the past 5 years), moving to another location. I have built up a good relationship with the staff at the HIV / STI clinic and they know me well, and have all my sexual health and HIV records there and I do not need to go over my life story when I attend there. I would not feel comfortable attending another service who does not know my story, especially as I was diagnosed in a traumatic way and feel the staff at the service have helped me to come to terms with my HIV diagnosis and also look after my sexual health needs . It would also prove difficult for me to attend another service for testing, as it is difficult for me to get time off work for appointments anyway, aswell as the fact that I work near to Heartlands, so attending there for all of my HIV and sexual health needs is convenient for me. Birmingham is such a large city with a population of millions, surely an STI service in the east of such a huge city is needed? The offer of regular sexual health screening that can be done after my HIV appointment / as needed / straight away, is really important to me because I like to know that I am all clear for other infections, while I am sexually active

    Yours sincerely


    Patient at Birmingham Heartlands HIV Service


So, what do you think ?