Introduction Strong evidence exists that young, rural people face significant barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. What influence this has on chlamydia notifications is unknown. Regional hospital urgent care services have the potential to provide after-hours SRH services but little is known about their capacity, policies and procedures in Victoria. This project aims to investigate the availability of testing for sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and provision of emergency contraception (EC) in regional hospitals and explore any relationships with chlamydia notifications.
Methods All urgent care and regional trauma services (N = 60) were surveyed by phone. Cross-sectional data were collected to determine policies and practices for STI testing and EC provision. Descriptive analysis was conducted by geographical region and an analysis will be performed to determine any relationship between access to after-hours SRH services and chlamydia notifications by region.
Results To date, 41/60 (68%) hospitals have provided data. 29% knew of a policy for STI testing and all services had the capacity for STI testing but 29% reported that they would refer patients for STI testing elsewhere. The majority of services (66%) had EC available on site. Of the 13 services that didn’t provide EC, only 1 could refer to another 24-hr service within 30 min drive. Of the hospitals that would refer to the nearest regional centre hospital, all were >30 min away and not accessible by public transport. EC provision varied widely between regions (range 29–83%). Further analysis between chlamydia notifications and STI testing availability will be explored.
Conclusion The data collected demonstrated the heterogeneity of STI testing and EC available to young people after-hours in regional areas. The bulk of services are offered at the discretion of individual hospitals. Accessibility, affordability, availability, accommodation and acceptability continue to be obstacles for young people in regional areas in rural Victoria.
Disclosure of interest statement The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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