The Sandyford Initiative Sexual and Reproductive Health Service, Glasgow
telephone helpline: improving access to sexual and reproductive health services
A. Spiers (1), M. Stewart
The Sandyford Initiative, Glasgow, UK
Introduction: Funding was allocated in the 2000/01 Health Improvement
Programme budget to provide a dedicated telephone helpline for healthcare
professionals to support sexual and reproductive health management in community
settings. Previously all client and professional calls were taken randomly by
clinicians working in busy clinics. Because of the volume of calls this led to
delays in clients attending the clinic being seen.
Method: The project was piloted in one Local Healthcare Co-operative
before the service was implemented to all healthcare providers in Glasgow.
Subscribers were actively recruited by providing initial information about the
new service with an invitation to subscribe and participate in the evaluation of
the service by completing a survey or taking part in short 1-1 interviews.
Subscribers consisted of General Practitioners, practice/hospital nurses, health
visitors, midwives, social workers, carers and support workers, children’s
support workers and pharmacists.
Results: 60% of subscribers returned the survey. 3 participated in
interviews. Preliminary evaluation showed that subscribers were comfortable with
specialist nurses dealing with enquiries, almost all enquiries were dealt with
immediately, rapid return of call if medical advice was required and
satisfaction with ability to provide rapid referral for clients with most
problems. Many professionals felt that a dedicated client helpline would be
valuable. Training needs for helpline staff would have to be met.
Conclusion: The results demonstrated the value of a dedicated
telephone helpline for professionals. In response to demand further funding was
sought to expand the helpline to enable it to provide immediate access for
clients, as well as professionals, to evidence based information, advice and
counselling on all aspects of sexual, reproductive and emotional health. Clients
would also be able to access test results. Today the helpline is staffed
weekdays, business hours, by a team of trained, experienced nurses who receive
around 900 calls per month. Approximately 40% of total calls are for test