The number of patients attending genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics in Britain has risen greatly in recent years. In contrast there have been very modest increases in staff and there are no data on accommodation or facilities. The Department of Health therefore set up a team to provide guidance on the planning and design of GUM clinics. After a survey the team concluded that GUM clinics in England were poorly and inappropriately accommodated. In their guidance they recommended that GUM clinics are sited in general outpatient departments (OPDs) of general hospitals; this improves patient care simplifying cross referral, consultation and other aspects of operational efficiency and convenience for patients, improves cost effectiveness and increases convenience for staff. Some facilities may be shared. Reception should be an attractive focal point and allow patients to be received and registered in privacy. Facilities for clinical examination are the central part of a clinic. Rooms which allow consultation and examination (CE) rooms of male and female patients maximise efficiency, flexibility and confidentiality. Sound attenuation is vital and decor should be attractive so inspiring confidence by producing a non-institutional atmosphere. An adequate number of CE rooms is essential and the waiting area should be sufficient for booked and walk in patients plus companions. There must be rooms for venepuncture, treatment and colposcopy. Interviewing rooms and offices are important, and there must be a secure health records store. A childrens play area and staff accommodation can be shared. An area for handling and simple investigation of patients' specimens is essential. This guidance should be interpreted flexibly. Though commissioned by the Department of Health for England, it is hoped that it will be useful for planning and designing genitourinary medicine clinics throughout Britain and in other countries.
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