Local doctor, Dr Lynsey Dunckley, has returned to the Rock to head up the new Well Person Unit which will include a comprehensive Sexual Health Service at the Primary Care Centre.
The Minister for Health, Neil Costa, made the announcement at a press conference yesterday in the presence of Dr Dunckley, GHA Medical Director Dr Danny Cassaglia and Deputy Medical Director and Director of Primary Care Dr Krishna Rawal.
The unit, which will open during Sexual Health Week in September 2018, will encompass various Clinics, including; Well Man and Well Woman Screening Clinics, as well as Sexual Health and Family Planning.
“This means that any person attending can do so knowing that their presence within the Unit will not indicate the reasons for their visit. In addition to this, meticulous consideration was taken concerning processing of test results,” said Dr Rawal.
“The anonymisation of test requests and results means only the GHA’s Medical Director, the Deputy Medical Director and a patient’s clinician will be able to identify the name of the patient in question,” he added.
The GHA states that sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity.
Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.
The Well Person Unit came to fruition as a result of the need for it being raised at a higher level within the GHA.
Once this had happened Dr Rawal set up a working group, which incorporated members of youth organisations, the Education Department, schools, Public Health, the Health Promotion team, Infection Control and the Nursing Department.
“This is the sort of service where if we are going to do it, we need to do it right and to the best of standards,” said Dr Rawal.
The working group looked at all aspects of such a unit and concluded that it did not have the expertise to do it themselves and required somebody with an intimate knowledge of the field to run the service.
It was with this in mind that Dr Dunckley was approached to head up the Unit.
Dr Dunckley started working within the GHA two weeks ago and commended the Minister and the GHA for recognising the importance of sexual health in Gibraltar.
“As a Gibraltarian I feel I understand the complexities of providing a contraceptive and sexual health service to a unique population like Gibraltar including the religious and ethical considerations,” said Dr Dunckley.
“Sexual and reproductive health is a speciality in its own right,” said Dr Dunckley who qualified as a GP in 2003 before he specialised in sexual and reproductive health. Her main medical areas of interest are contraception and vasectomy.
“Everyone who attends the Well Person Unit will be assured of a welcoming, confidential and non-judgemental service, including young people,” said Dr Dunckley.
“In addition, to well persons screening for example glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure monitoring we will also be providing an anonymous confidential sexual health screening service.”
“Contraction provision will include long acting reversible methods such as the hormonal and non-hormonal coil, contraception implants and injections and then we will look at alternative methods to aspire to and provide as the Unit rolls out,” she added.
Dr Dunckley also has a qualified in physosexual counselling and she aims to incorporate this into her consultations. “If you attend the Well Person Unit we will be able to make an assessment and if we are not able to provide the service within the Unit we will certainly be able to sign post the relevant agency,” she said.
The Unit aims to service all ages and genders in Gibraltar including, promoting sexual activity and wellbeing of being sexually active amongst the older generation and providing services for persons suffering from erectile dysfunction that extend beyond taking a pill.
When someone attends the Well Person Unit, “they will receive a holistic consultation which will take into account health promotion,” said Dr Dunckley.
Mr Costa hailed the creation of the Unit as one of the best examples of the collaboration between patient groups and clinicians.
“For Gibraltar, this will be an entirely new service, but many of the elements are already being provided at separate locations and by different teams. To bring them together will create a comprehensive and streamlined service that will develop and grow, and fill a well -needed gap in our health care provision,” he said.
“I am truly grateful to all of our highly dedicated health professionals who have been involved in the creation of this important service, and have succeeded in overcoming various challenges along the way.”
“Mr Nathan Lightbody and Ms Sandra Netto of the Infection Control Unit, members of the Health Promotion Unit, the Hospital Pharmacy, the Prescribing Unit and the Pathology Department, along with the Youth Services and Department of Education have all contributed towards this project. I wish to sincerely thank them all for their excellent work,” he added.
Well Person Unit at PCC
The unit will open the same hours as the PCC and will be located in a somewhat private area of the clinic.
Offices have been identified for the service and are slightly set aside from the main area of the primary care centre.
The rooms will only require some minor works.
It will be staffed by Dr Dunckley and the GHA are looking to recruit nursing staff.
“As the service rolls out we will obviously need to structure the service and see what we are providing and how we are providing it in terms of routine appointments and that mix that is familiar to anyone who uses Primary Care and the other elements that we will explore as we get closer to opening time,” said Dr Rawal.
“Essentially it is a GP focused service so will be within Primary Care times,” he added.
The unit will not be offering free sanitary products but may in the future look at a free condom scheme for young people but will be involving key stakeholders if this process happens.
“This is a service that has been long awaited, much discussed and extensively planned. The support of Minister Costa has been the pivotal point that has turned this idea in to a reality and for that I am hugely grateful. The benefit to our community will be enormous, not only straight away but as an investment in our families, our youth and our future,” said Dr Rawal.
“I would like to personally thank my excellent Clinical Nurse Manager Suzanne Romero who has dedicated so many hours to this amazing project and whose expertise and experience have been invaluable,” he added.