Not just patients - cliniQ the evolution of trans led care

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ClinicQ-with-Priti

Priti Bhatt, equality and diversity manager, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust writes about cliniQ, a clinic dedicated to enhancing the lives of trans people, their partners and friends.

The underlying mantra of my role has three components: advancing equality of opportunity, valuing diversity and embracing inclusion. 

However, imagine yourself in a society where you do not have access to the same opportunities as others, you are not respected, you cannot be your authentic self, or your uniqueness is perceived as a barrier. I’m painting a bleak picture, I know, but it is fair to say that this has been, and sadly still is the real life experience of a lot trans and non binary people. 

Thankfully, I am pleased to report that in a small corner of Soho, London, my colleagues from cliniQ are creating an oasis, (as one patient put it) for trans and binary people. CliniQ is a holistic sexual health and wellbeing service for trans and non binary people, partners and friends. Since 2012, this ground breaking service has offered access to drug and alcohol support, counselling, advocacy and much more for the trans community.

My path has crossed cliniQ’s on a number of occasions, and I’m always struck by the energy and sheer commitment of cliniQ staff, to innovate and push boundaries in their pursuit to create and deliver an excellent service for our trans and non binary patients. 

The timeline charts cliniQ’s evolutionary journey since inception.
  • 2010 - Talks began with founding member Michelle Ross, Graham Reed and later the clinical staff at 56 Dean Street, with a view to establishing a sexual health service specifically for the trans community. Partnership agreements developed with London Friend, Antidote, Galop and Stonewall Housing to ensure cliniQ could provide a broad and holistic service. 
  • 2011 - Project Q carried out a survey to assess the need for a trans and non binary only clinic. More than a quarter of respondents had experienced biphobia, transphobia or homophobia at a clinic, and another quarter had their gender identity disrespected.
  • 2012 - Training for cliniQ team began, encouraging staff to look at their own ideas about gender, to use appropriate terminology, to learn about the implications of surgery or hormones on sexual health.  
  • 2012- cliniQ opened at the 56 Dean Street clinic on 15 February 2012. Since its launch cliniQ has hosted three national conference in its Trans Health Matters series.
  • 2014 - cliniQ won the Nursing Times award for enhancing patient dignity.
  • 2015 - cliniQ featured in the Nursing Standard, in a feature about sensitive, trans led medical care.
  • 2015 - cliniQ representatives contributed to a World Health Organisation/United Nations development programme project, resulting in the publication Implementing comprehensive HIV and STI programmes with transgender people, a practical guide for collaborative interventions. The guidance highlights how HIV can be prevented in the trans community. 
  • 2016 - cliniQ highly commended by NHS Employers – Inclusive team of the year award.
  • 2016 - cliniQ representatives joined the planning committee for the first ever trans pre conference in Durban, South Africa for AIDS 2016. The pre conference No More Lip Service – Trans Access, Equality, Rights, Now was hosted by International Reference Group for trans women and was a huge success, and a global first.
  • 2016 - cliniQ awarded a £25,000 grant from HIV Prevention England and Public Health England. The grant is awarded to non-profit organisations and local sexual health services who demonstrate effective, innovative partnership working to aid HIV Prevention.
  • The next 12 months - Utilising the grant cliniQ will produce online and printed sexual health and HIV prevention information for those in our transgender communities most vulnerable to HIV.  
It is self evident that cliniQ has grown in stature since its creation, with an ever growing team of trans volunteers and skilled professionals, providing mentoring, case work, counselling and psychotherapy for their communities. It is the only weekly trans led holistic, sexual health service in the UK and possibly Europe. 

When I hear patient feedback that describes the cliniQ service as ‘lifesaving, safe and priceless’, it makes me feel immensely proud that colleagues are empowering our trans and non binary population to celebrate and embrace their individuality, as well as providing an invaluable patient service. 

What is the secret to cliniQ’s success I hear you cry? It’s quite simple, they listen to their patients. For a trans or non binary patient to feel they have regained their voice, are treated with dignity, respect and as a valued individual of our society is surely of immeasurable worth. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for cliniQ - watch this space with me!

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