Record number of GU clinic visits in 2021, after pandemic slowdown

Visits have more than doubled in ten years, although staff shortage is still an issue at the clinic

Visits to the GU clinic have nearly trebled in 10 years
Visits to the GU clinic have nearly trebled in 10 years

2021 was a record year for visits to the genitourinary GU Clinic, after a slowdown in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Data provided in parliament by health minister Chris Fearns shows visits to the GU clinic ‘normalising’ in 2021 after a sharp downturn during the lockdown year of 2020.

But the data also shows the number of visits more than doubling in ten years. He was replying to a parliamentary question made by PN MP Chris Said.

Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Visits 2,462 2,488 3,035 1,687 3,969 5,428 5,864 6,255 6,399 4,113 6,516

The most commonly diagnosed STD in 2015 and 2016 was Chlamydia, with 154 and 270 cases respectively. From 2017 to 2019, human papillomavirus (HPV) was the most common disease, with 842, 937 and 798 cases respectively.In between May 2021 and the end of January 2022, there were 77 visits to the GU clinic in Gozo. Gozo’s first genitourinary clinic opened its doors last May.

4,227 of the visits were from men in 2019, while 2,172 were from women. In terms of sexual orientation, 4,472 of the people who visited were heterosexual and 1,853 were homosexual.

MaltaToday is informed that the GU clinic still falls short of the required personnel to deal with the increased number of visits. There are currently four doctors, three nurses, two secretaries and a helper.

Sources that spoke to use stressed on the need of more nurses at the clinic, as most of the telephone and admin work falls onto them, due to the strict confidentiality approach with which cases are handled.

In 2021 Fearne had announced plans for genitourinary services to be provided at health centres and community clinics. Whilst this is intended to shift some of the workload away from the GU clinic, sources said they expect more patients to be referred to them.