CLINICS which offer emergency contraception and HIV preventative drugs in some of Glasgow’s most deprived areas have been shut down due to staff shortages.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it had been forced to “temporarily” close three sexual health services in the city in Drumchapel, Pollok and Castlemilk and another service in East Dunbartonshire and was unable to say when they would re-open.

The Castlemilk service, which said to have the highest uptake across the city and offers a dedicated walk-in service for teenagers has been shut for more than three months.

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Other services in Vale of Leven, Barrhead and Springburn have been forced to restrict their opening hours and services in Clydebank and West Dunbartonshire are also affected by temporary 24-hour closures.

The health board said “every effort” was being made to address staffing issues at the clinics - it is not clear which staff are in short supply - and said patients were being offered appointment at other clinics including the main centre at Charing Cross.

The clinics also offer reproductive advice, appointments for women seeking terminations and counselling.

Figures released last week show the number of cases of syphilis recorded in Scotland has reached a 15-year high.

The Health Protection Scotland (HPS) data found the rise was part of a general increase in all sexually transmitted infections (STIs) last year.

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There were 455 diagnoses of syphilis - which can spread to the brain if left untreated - a rise of 14% in a year.

Almost all of those diagnosed with the disease were men.

A petition has been launched by Women against Capitalism, calling for the Castlemilk service to be safeguarded for the community.

The petition states: “Castlemilk has a high population of young people, including almost 30% in low income families.

“They were able to access a walk-in Sandyford service in Castlemilk supported by youth workers but this is also part of the current service closure, meaning young people are missing out on their right to health including emergency contraception and referral to other services such as specialist counselling.

“Castlemilk is also one of the few Sandyford services open later hours, usually open to 8pm it is an essential services to those in employment, education or daily caring responsibilities who are unable to access others across the city due to limited opening hours.

“The nearest service in Govanhill, is a 30 minute journey from the current Castlemilk service and £2.40 for a one-way adult ticket, a barrier to a community where 1 in 4 local people are said to be facing financial hardship, more than double the Scottish average.

“Our fear is that this temporary closure becomes permanent.”

A spokeswoman for the health board said: “Unfortunately, due to staffing issues we have had to temporarily close four Sandyford clinics, including Castlemilk, and don’t yet have a date for their re-opening.

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“Every effort is being made to address the staffing issues and in the meantime, patients are being offered appointments at our other clinics."