Surrey patients not effectively involved in plans to change HIV and sexual health services by Surrey County Council and NHS England

4th July 2018

Politicians at Surrey County Council have heard today how commissioners of recent changes to sexual health services in the county failed to effectively involve patients.

The report from the Sexual Health Services Task Group was prompted by a referral from Healthwatch Surrey, the county’s independent watchdog for health and social care, after it was approached by distressed patients with concerns about the closure of clinics.

The report found that:

  • attempts to involve patients, the public and stakeholders in the development and introduction of the integrated service were largely unsuccessful
  • a more informed picture of need in Surrey could have been achieved through broader and more effective engagement
  • communication and engagement by the organisation now providing the service, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, remains inconsistent causing concern and anxiety among patients

Commenting on the findings, Healthwatch Surrey’s CEO Kate Scribbins said:

“The message Healthwatch Surrey received from patients about these changes was clear. They were shocked, confused and distressed. More than one individual told us they were worried that they would not have continuing access to life sustaining medications.

We welcome this important report and hope that we’re at a turning point. In these times of significant change it’s crucial that people are properly involved in decisions about how services are to be provided, to ensure they are fit for the future.

“Effectively involving patients and the public is not always straightforward. People will not always agree with how services are changed. However, that does not mean that their views should not be heard and considered.”

Local politicians heard how the methods used during the service changes were “too focused, too few and not promoted effectively enough to elicit meaningful engagement”1.

Furthermore, the precise number of people who received treatment for HIV in Surrey did not become apparent to commissioners until after the contract had been awarded.

Ms Scribbins continued:

“Surrey County Council and other commissioners need to ensure that learning from this experience is put into practice.

“We will continue to support, and hold to account, these organisations, all of whom have a legal duty to involve people who use services.”

The full report can be found here:

Healthwatch Surrey are currently recruiting people with an interest in the NHS and social care services to support the work it does in amplifying the voice of local people. People can contact Healthwatch Surrey on 0303 303 0023 or email




  1. Sexual Health Services Task Group Final Report, paragraph 40 (