Difficulty accessing services in rural areas
Sexual health services can be hard to access for younger people in rural areas (in the countryside), in towns and cities where services are overstretched, or from a community that's opposed to sex before marriage.
People we talked to from rural areas found sexual health and family planning services limited, and not very good at dealing with younger people. There were also concerned that staff at the doctor's might know them or their parents and that they couldn't be sure of confidentiality.
- Age at interview:
- A level student who lives in a rural area. She says that in her area there is 'nothing' geared for young people regarding sexual health and family planning services.
In this area I think that they could do with opening up a clinic that is actually open when kids can get there, rather than in the day when they're meant to be at school, because if you skive a day off school, especially if you're not in the sixth form, in the sixth form it is easier to miss a day off school, but lower down the school like up to sixteen, if you miss a day then they contact your parents and then you've got to explain to your parents why you missed a day off school which a lot of kids don't want to do, if they've had to go to a Family Planning Clinic.
So it would be better if they could like maybe go down on their way home from school or something like that. Also my doctor is actually really good, but a lot of the doctors around here aren't very good with teenagers, with people of my age. They seem to be quite judgemental, which a lot of teenagers are scared to go to them and one doctor that I know of, I'm not sure exactly what the circumstances were but one of my friends went for a confidential kind of thing about something to do with sexual health.
I think she'd had a pregnancy scare or something like that and the doctor actually told her mum, when her mum went to see the doctor he kind of dropped her in it and said 'oh how's your daughter' and her mum was like 'I don't know what you're talking about' and so he explained it to her, so obviously that, but apart from that being illegal, that, a lot of people were scared to go to doctors in case that kind of thing happened to them.
So maybe some more friendly doctors or female nurses that would actually take the time out because the female nurses that we've got round here they do the blood test and the minor ops and that but they don't actually sit down and talk to teenagers and we've got the school nurse which is quite good, we've got 'Pop-in-Here' which is meant to be good, I've never been so I don't know, but that's meant to be quite good.
In general around this town, people are scared to go to the doctors and they can't get to a clinic so the only option they've got is to listen to their friends, and their friends aren't always as clued up as they pretend to be.
Being known to the receptionist, or to people in the waiting room, could make it difficult for younger teenagers to ask for emergency appointments, for example for the 'morning after pill'. They may go to a nearby town for sexual health services, but some people don't know what Family Planning Clinics are available nearby.
- Age at interview:
- Single professional woman who works full time in the managerial sector. Brought up in a rural community where women had no access to family planning services.
I did get my, when I first went on the Pill that was from my doctor but I didn't really, I didn't feel very comfortable about going to see my doctor about it.
Because it was a family doctor. I know, you know that they're not going to say anything but there was also two doctors at the surgery that were friends with my parents and I was very nervous about it and I told myself 'well they can't say anything', 'they're not allowed to say anything' but maybe they will, so yes I wasn't terribly comfortable.
This was the only surgery that there was where you lived?
It was my surgery and it was near school, near college so it was just more convenient and at that time the Family Planning Clinic that was nearby me or was nearest to me was only open on a Wednesday evening and I lived in a village and it was very difficult for me to get there. When I did go I had to lie to my mum and tell her I was meeting a friend and get there, so it was easier because the doctor's surgery was open all day.
Services for gay people are more limited in rural areas. Some gay people may grow up without knowing any other gay people in the area, or have a poor experience of when they try to talk about their concerns with health professionals. One young man felt that his GP was letting young people down by not telling them about services in nearby towns.
- Age at interview:
- A level student who lives in a small rural town and recently decided to come out to family and friends. Says that he has a very supportive teacher. (Played by an actor)
(The accompanying video and audio clips are played by an actor)
Yeah, a couple of months ago, about six months ago I went to the doctors just to get some information it was, I don't know why I did it, I just thought having unprotected gay sex, maybe I should just find out a bit more information about it.
So you went to your GP?
Yeah and he wasn't helpful. He wasn't helpful at all. I went in and just asked about kind of, look I'd like some information can I talk to someone or get some information about sexually transmitted diseases, I'm gay, what kind of diseases, infections will affect me kind of thing.
He said 'oh we'll give you a print out' and that was it, he said 'just collect the print out from the desk and that'll be it' and that was it. He gave me reams of paper about everything to do with these diseases but it didn't actually help me at all.
Medical information about it that didn't kind of, I didn't need, I didn't want, I wanted to talk to someone about what I could face, how I could go about getting treated for it or being tested for it or how it would affect life, and I just got pieces of paper for it and I laughed and just chucked them in the bin.
I flicked through them and I just, I actually brought them in to show the deputy head because I thought it was so hilarious that he'd just given me these pieces of paper and practically said there you go, that's it, that'll do, so I just, I just thought I got, I just laughed it off.
I had to laugh it off because if I hadn't laughed it off I really would have started getting really angry with it because to have a doctor, a medical professional saying 'oh I'll give you a piece of paper to tell you all about it'.
That made me feel so small, it made me feel like I was worthless, that I didn't even deserve to talk to someone about it, that was hard because it didn't help me at all, it didn't give me any of the information that I wanted, that I needed, at which point I gave up.
I couldn't be bothered to look for any more information on it because if the health services have got such a low opinion of gay people or sexually transmitted diseases and infections, then what's the point of looking any further, because they obviously really don't care about it.
Last reviewed January 2016.
Last updated August 2012.