Limited access to implant and coil fittings at Devon Sexual Health – update

posted by: Jonathan Shaw

Updated 06.08.20

Devon Sexual Health in Exeter, Barnstaple and Torbay are now in a position to see some patients who need implants or coils fitted. We have planned for this according to regularly updated FSRH guidance, Public Health recommendations and the approval of our local NHS trusts. This is obviously welcomed and a positive step forward.

So things are back to normal?

Not quite. As with most day-to-day services, we are not running as normal. Our clinics are limited to our “hub” sites in Exeter, Barnstaple and Torbay – find your nearest service here. These clinics are of limited size and are working under COVID conditions, including the use of PPE. We have to keep patients safe and socially distanced and therefore the number of patients we can have in the clinic at once is significantly reduced. Our staff also need longer to see patients so they can thoroughly clean between procedures, and to allow them to use their PPE safely. We will also try to minimise your time in the clinic, by doing as much as we can over the phone.

For this reason we are prioritising access to implants and coils to certain groups. These groups have been recommended to us by national guidance, and are the groups who benefit the most from reliable access to long-acting contraception.

Am I in one of these groups?

We will be prioritising these groups:

  • Those with vulnerabilities including but not limited to those who are: <18, attending abortion and maternity services, homeless, sex workers, victims of sexual assault, people with language barriers, drug and alcohol problems, learning disability, serious mental illness
  • Those aged <30 years

What if I am not in one of these groups?

We may be able to provide implants and coils to people outside of these groups, but only if we have the space to do so. This is a complex and constantly changing situation. If you would like to talk to us about a coil or implant fitting, please call our telephone triage service: 0300 303 3989.

At this point in time we are unable to routinely fit coils for use as part of an HRT regimen or to manage heavy menstrual bleeding.

What if I want my implant/coil taken out or replaced?

We are providing removals only for those who have unacceptable side effects due to their implant or coil and/or who, after appropriate counselling, wish to try for a baby.

We are providing replacements for those whose current implant or coil is nearing the end of its recommended extended use :

  • Up to 6 years for 5 year Levonogestrel IUS (Mirena)
  • Up to 4 years for contraceptive subdermal implant (Nexplanon)
  • Up to 12 years for a 10 year copper IUD

Will this change in the future?

Yes. Our service will continue to change in response to the COVID pandemic. We will continue to update this page to keep you informed of any further changes as they happen.

Helpful advice from the FSRH is available to support your contraceptive choices during these challenging times – link

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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

How to access our service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Advice from our service:

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

We are currently prioritising these groups for coil and implant (LARC) fits:

  • Those with vulnerabilities including but not limited to those who are: <18, attending abortion and maternity services, homeless, sex workers, victims of sexual assault, people with language barriers, drug and alcohol problems, learning disability, serious mental illness
  • Those aged <30 years

More details on LARC fittings at our service are found here

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.

Alternative provision:

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info