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Highland Sexual Health Teen Service is improving access to services for under 25s via NHS Highland's new live chat service


By Ian Duncan

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The Highland Sexual Health Teen Service, front from left, Karen Marnoch , Claire Watt and Karen Carson and, back from left, Kimberley MacInnes and Becca Douglas.
The Highland Sexual Health Teen Service, front from left, Karen Marnoch , Claire Watt and Karen Carson and, back from left, Kimberley MacInnes and Becca Douglas.

A new live chat service is set to help young people across the Highlands.

The Highland Sexual Health Teen Service is a small dedicated team who provide care, advice and support to young people.

In response to the pandemic, when many health services could not be provided face to face, the team were keen to ensure that young people could still access the service and receive the necessary support.

The concept of a live chat was introduced as a way of reaching out to young people and at the same time improving access to services for the many young people who live in remote areas.

Kimberley MacInnes, service manager for Highland Sexual Health Services, said: “When the pandemic hit and we went into lockdown we had to suspend the walk in sexual health services that we provided for young people across the Highland Council area.

“We were really keen however to ensure that young people could still access our services and we tried a number of different alternative formats such as telephone appointments or video consultation. These did not prove to be as popular due to concerns around privacy, with families all at home during lockdown and fears of the people using our service being overheard or interrupted.

“What was needed was a discreet route of access to the service so the team built on the concept of an online live chat service where young people could chat with one of our specialist nurses and receive advice, support, have a face to face appointment arranged or be signposted to other services if required.”

Access to the service is simple and straightforward and available to those aged under 25 via the service website.

A Live Chat tab opens up at 4pm each weekday, directing users to a secure site where they have the same privacy, security and confidentiality that they would get with a face to face appointment.

Feedback from the people using the service has been encouraging and the average rating out of 5 has been 4.8. – service users said they had found it to be both accessible and informative.


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