Planning permission approved for UK first sexual health development

The new £9m centre, to be based at the existing Chalmers Hospital in Lauriston Place, will be home to a UK first, a pioneering initiative to integrate family planning and genito-urinary medicine into one single service.

The project involves the demolition of parts of the rear of the building and a total refurbishment of the hospital’s interior. A three storey extension to the south of the site will also be created under the plans to be considered by the council’s planning committee.

The committee accepted the recommendations of planning officials that the development be given the go ahead subject to a small number of conditions and a prior legal agreement.

David Small, general manager, Edinburgh Community Health Partnership (CHP), said:

“We are delighted with this decision, which marks an important milestone in our development of a single integrated sexual health service for our patients. We will now continue with our work to sympathetically develop a historic building which has already served the people of Lothian well for over 140 years"

Dr Gordon Scott, lead clinician for the new service, said:

“Our new one-stop sexual health service will deliver a seamless service for the public, where for example patients attending GUM clinics can be referred for contraception advice provided in the same building at the same time.
"At present, both services are provided from different places, making it less convenient for service users to take advantage of all the sexual health services we provide."
"Providing a one stop service will also allow healthcare professionals to work more closely together, in line with the Scottish Government's Scottish Sexual Health Strategy."

Chalmers Hospital first opened in 1864 and was previously home to X ray facilities and one of a number of community midwifery units. Alternative arrangements have been made for these services, with construction set to start on the Chalmers Hospital site in spring 2009.

NHS Lothian's Family Planning and Well Woman Service is currently based at Dean Terrace in Stockbridge, while GUM is based at the nearby Lauriston Buildings.

Patients have been involved in the design of the new centre and have made a valued contribution to how the new building is laid out internally.

The new centre is set to open in 2010 and is expected to provide care and advice to over 50,000 patients a year.