Media Release: Lothian’s new sexual health centre opens

NHS Lothian’s new Chalmers Sexual Health Centre opened its doors today (Tuesday 7 June 2011).

The centre has been designed to provide a purpose built ‘one-stop-shop’ for sexual health services.

The Family Planning & Well Women service previously based at Dean Terrace and the Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) department at Lauristion Building have been combined to provide the services in the new centre.

Work started on converting the former Chalmers Hospital in 2009 and the new £9 million facility has been designed to provide an improved environment for patients and staff.

Dr Gordon Scott, clinical director and GUM consultant, NHS Lothian Sexual and Reproductive Health, said: “We are delighted that our new sexual health centre is ready to open its doors.

“Our new home will allow us to deliver a seamless service for the public, where, for example patients can receive advice on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and contraception at the same time.”

The historic building has already served the people of Lothian well for over 140 years.

The renovation and extension have maintained the character of the original hospital while creating a modern and spacious city centre base for sexual health services, making it easier for people to access fast and effective care and advice.

Clinic space has been divided into four hubs which will help ensure patients privacy.

The environmental impact of the building was a key consideration and the new extension has a ‘living’ sedum roof and solar panels.

All clinics that have previously been provided in either Family Planning or GUM, will move to the new centre.

There are a mix of drop-in and booked appointments available for general clinics but most of the more specialist clinics are by appointment only. Local clinics continue to run at various locations across Lothian. Patients can also visit their GP for routine sexual health and contraceptive advice and services.

The views of patients and the public helped NHS Lothian with the initial design of the building and there has been continuing involvement in the process of developing the new integrated services including input into opening times and waiting/reception areas.

The Edinburgh Family Planning Trust has also played a key role in the creation of the Chalmers Sexual Health Centre.

A stained glass window, entitled ‘The Family’, has been installed in the new building in recognition of the Trust’s contribution to improving the sexual health of the people of Edinburgh and Lothian since it was established, almost 80 years ago.

Designed by Scottish artist, Pinkie Maclure, the window reflects the diversity of people who use the Chalmers Sexual Health Centre.

Dr John Loudon, chair of the Edinburgh Family Planning Trust, said: “I am delighted to see the Chalmers Sexual Health Centre open. The facilities are excellent and the integrated service will provide patients with high quality expert care.

“The Trust is pleased to have had such an active role in this project and is looking forward to working with staff to continue to improve the sexual health of people in Edinburgh and across Lothian.”

Notes to editors:

About the Edinburgh Family Planning Trust

The Trust, or Edinburgh Mothers’ Welfare Clinic as it was first known, was established in 1933 by Mrs Hazel Kennedy to “give instruction in the most satisfactory methods of contraception to married women in poor circumstances”.

In response to increasing demand, the clinic moved into 18 Dean Terrace in 1957.

Lothian Health Board took over the service in 1974 as part of the reorganisation of the National Health Service. The name was changed to the Edinburgh Family Planning Trust in 1988.

The success in obtaining agreement to refurbish Chalmers Hospital for an integrated Family Planning and Genitourinary Medicine Service was in no small part due to the persistence and generosity of the Edinburgh Family Planning Trust. The Trust has contributed a large part of its financial resources to the project together with the proceeds from the sale of the building in Dean Terrace.

History of Chalmers Hospital

  • 1836 George Chalmers, plumber and Edinburgh Burgess dies leaving his estate for the purpose of founding a new Infirmary or Sick and Hurt Hospital.
  • 1860 building of 48 bedded, four ward hospital begins
  • 1872 upper wards opened to patients who could pay 3/- per day
  • 1939 Hospital requisitioned for civilian casualties
  • 1948 NHS introduced and payment for beds stops
  • 1948 Hospital managed by South East Regional Hospital Board
  • 2009 Hospital finally closes its doors to all patients
  • 2011 New Chalmers centre for sexual health opened

Photographs of the stained glass window and the unveiling of the window are available from the NHS Lothian press office. Please contact Carol Harris, communications manager, 0131 465 5652,


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Contact: Carol Harris
Phone: 0131 465 5652