Choosing a clinic
Choosing a clinic usually depends on where you live, but it you are treated in the UK, you have a choice for where you go for your HIV care.
- If you live in London or another large town, then you are likely to have a choice of several clinics that are close to where you live or work. In London, for example, there are at least 12 large clinics and as many smaller ones. Several other large cities and towns have more than one specialist HIV clinic.
- You can always visit a clinic before you register to use their services.
- Usually the larger the HIV clinic, the broader the range of other specialist services that are available. Generally, larger clinics have more experience treating HIV, but you can still get excellent care at smaller clinics and care can be variable at larger hospitals.
- The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV has an online directory of clinics in the UK. The link on their home page includes a search facility by town or postcode.
- If you have any trouble, the i-Base phoneline can also provide contact details for your closest clinic, or talk in more detail about issues related to choosing a clinic.
Factors to consider when choosing a clinic
- Is it important to be close to home, or to work?
- Do you prefer a clinic that is further away because it feels more anonymous?
- Is is easy to get to by public transport?
Clinic size and experience
- Does the clinic have a choice of doctors? This might be important if you are a woman and prefer a female doctor, or if you are a gay man and prefer a gay doctor.
- If you have a complication relating to HIV and another illness, you may need to be seen by a specialist at a larger clinic.
- If you are not yet on treatment, or are stable on treatment, you may prefer a closer clinic so your monitoring is easier.
- Even if you are on treatment, once this is stable, you may only need to visit your clinic 2-3 times a year.
Can you see the same doctor?
- It is difficult to develop a relationship with your doctor if you see a different person at each visit.
- Ask the clinic for a named doctor who you can book appointments with for each visit. If your clinic does not offer this, you may want to choose a different clinic.
- However, there are also advantages from sometimes seeing different doctors. Having a second opinion about your care can be helpful. Other doctors may have suggestions that your routine doctor may not have considered.
Can I change clinics?
In the UK patients have the right to change your doctor or treatment centre.
- You do not have to give a reason for changing doctors or clinics, although sometimes this can help resolve a problem if there has been a misunderstanding.
- If you have generally been happy at your clinic, it may be better to resolve a problem than to have the disruption of changing clinics. Also, a new clinic may have the same problems as your old centre.
- If you do decide you want to change clinics, it is your right to have all test results and a summary of your treatment history forwarded to your new doctor or treatment centre. As well as asking for your old clinic to do this, it is worth asking for your own copy of a summary of your notes so you can also take these with you personally.