A SEXUAL health clinic for teenagers is facing an uncertain future after the NHS axed its funding.
Caledonia Youth has been told that its contract to provide the service won’t be renewed when it expires in April.
Health chiefs want to bring the service in-house at the purpose-built Chalmers Sexual Health Centre in Chalmers Street.
But there are fears teenagers will be too embarrassed to visit the centre, which was criticised when it opened in 2011 for its “bold” sign, which was later vandalised.
NHS Lothian previously considered renaming it, after complaints that youngsters were worried about being seen entering and branded “skanks”.
Hawys Kilday, chief executive of Caledonia Youth, said the move had left her “greatly disappointed” and that the Chalmers centre would intimidate worried teenagers.
She said: “Many young people access our clinic having first learned about services via educational interventions. Many more steer away from places where their paths may cross with adults – parents, teachers, family friends and the like.
“Vulnerable groups are even more challenged when accessing services.”
The charity, formerly the Brooke Advisory Service in Scotland, has offered sexual health services for young people at its Castle Terrace location since 1968. It will keep going until the end of March, before NHS Lothian’s Sexual Health, Blood-Borne Viruses and Substance Misuse team takes control of the service.
But Lothians MSP and Labour shadow health spokesman Neil Findlay urged NHS Lothian to have a re-think.
He said: “Young people want to access services they are comfortable with and in a setting where they can feel relaxed. NHS Lothian should listen to the voice of the charitable organisations working in this field before making any decision.”
He added: “I would urge NHS Lothian to think about this very carefully.”
Health chiefs pledged to continue providing education and outreach sexual health services to young people across the city.
Alex McMahon, NHS Lothian director of strategic planning, said: “Chalmers is a purpose-built sexual health centre which will provide an appropriate setting for this service and improved access to the full range of contraception and sexual health screening, treatment and care.”
He added: “While we appreciate that the decision to remove funding from Caledonia Youth is difficult for the organisation, we believe that moving the provision of young people’s sexual health and wellbeing services to Chalmers provides the best service for young people in Edinburgh.”