Media Release: Minister for Public Health opens Lothian’s new sexual health centre

NHS Lothian’s new Chalmers Sexual Health Centre will be officially opened by Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health today (Wednesday 31 August).

The centre provides an ‘one-stop-shop’ for sexual health services, from advice on sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and contraception to more specialised clinics.

Work started on converting the historic Chalmers Hospital in 2009 and the new £9 million facility provides a modern and spacious city centre base for NHS Lothian’s specialist sexual and reproductive health service.

Dr Gordon Scott, clinical director and Genitourinary Medicine Consultant, NHS Lothian Sexual and Reproductive Health, said: “We moved into the building in June and have seen over 10,000 patients. Our new home allows us to deliver a comprehensive service for the public, where patients with complex sexual health needs can receive treatment and advice for a range of issues, such as testing for 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 dedicated clinic space helps ensure patients privacy.

To coincide with the opening, NHS Lothian has launched a new sexual health website – – to help people answer questions about their sexual health and the services that are available in Lothian.

Dr Scott added: “We want to make sure that our service meets the needs of people across Lothian.

“Our new website provides a huge amount of information for anyone looking for answers or advice from what to do if you are pregnant to what to expect when your visit an STI clinic.

“It supports the work we do at Chalmers and at the local clinics we run across Lothian and will help us achieve the aims we have set out in our sexual health strategy.”

Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health, said: “NHS boards are working hard to improve Scotland’s sexual health. The opening of the new Chalmers Sexual Health Centre is a great example. The Centre will provide effective and patient-centred sexual health services for the people of Edinburgh. It is an excellent example of integrated sexual healthcare and a model of best practice we would like to see replicated elsewhere in Scotland.”

NHS Lothian’s Sexual Health and HIV strategy sets out the vision for sexual health and HIV services over the next five years (2011-2016). It focuses on four core aims; to reduce harm from sexual ill health and HIV, ensure people with HIV live long and healthy lives, reduce unintended pregnancies and to encourage people to make confident and competent decisions about sex.

The strategy builds on some of the successes of the last five years including the development of the integrated sexual health service and the Chalmers Sexual Health Centre. It includes plans to complete a review of the location of local sexual health clinics, develop a programme to reduce the stigma associated with HIV and to raise awareness of and improve access to longer-acting reversible contraception (LARC).

Notes to editors:

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

The Edinburgh Family Planning Trust 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.

 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
  • 2009 Hospital finally closes its doors to all patients
  • 2011 New Chalmers centre for sexual health opened.


Issued: 31 August 2011

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Contact: Carol Harris
Phone: 07769887183