Fears over possible closure of Margaret Pyke sexual health clinic

Women dressed as suffragettes protest outside the Margaret Pyke Centre which is threatened with clos

Women dressed as suffragettes protest outside the Margaret Pyke Centre which is threatened with closure as a result of government spending cuts - Credit: Archant

The closure of an NHS sexual health clinic in Kings Cross could lead to more unwanted pregnancies and an increase in sexually transmitted infections, a nurse at the centre has warned.

The Margaret Pyke Centre, which was rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission, faces possible closure by the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) as part of plans to impose £6million worth of cuts to sexual health services.

But staff at the centre in Wicklow Street, which provides free contraception, referrals and advice to hundreds of people - including many in Islington - have warned that the closure could have a detrimental effect on patients.

Ann Eady, a clinic specialist nurse who has worked at the centre since 1971, just two years after the clinic opened in 1969, said: “It [the closure] will lead to more unwanted pregnancies and possibly a rise in sexually transmitted infections.”

The services provided by the centre are irreplaceable, she said, with many GPs referring their more complex cases to specialists at the centre.

“We offer the whole package which, to be fair, GPs don’t necessarily have the time to do,” she said. “If you go to a specialist centre for anything you will get experts.”

One of the contraceptive methods provided free of charge by the centre is the morning after pill, which costs between £25 and £30 in pharmacies.

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“It’s free in GP surgeries too but we often have women coming in who haven’t been able to get an appointment,” Mrs Eady said.

Moreover, around 25 per cent of people in London – including many migrants – are not even registered with a GP, she pointed out.

But a spokesperson for the CNWL denied that the services provided by the centre would stop.

“Sexual Health Services are under considerable financial pressure so closure of one site is being considered, but no decision has yet been made,” the spokesperson said.

“Services will be maintained. Fears about the loss of the, rightly famous, women’s contraceptive services are without foundation.”

A petition against the centre’s closure has now reached almost 6,000 signatures.