A brilliant outlook – the new Lawson Unit

October 23, 2023

Words by Zoe Adler and the Lawson Unit Team

In June this year the Lawson Unit finally moved! After years of planning and numerous changes of date, we finally packed our bags, boxes, house plants and artwork and moved into our brand new purpose built clinic. The new clinic is situated on the sixth floor of the Louisa Martindale building in the Royal Sussex County Hospital and boasts fantastic views across Kemptown and the sea.

The move posed numerous challenges but also opportunities. At times it felt like a house move with a VERY large family! Over 2,400 patients and a lot staff. The team were amazing and worked flat out, including over an entire weekend to ensure the clinic was ready to open its doors to the first patients with the usual Lawson Unit welcome on Monday morning.

The move has brought us into the main hospital and has meant that for the first time we are co-located with inpatient services. This has given us excellent opportunities to educate and support each other, with the team in the Lawson Unit educating the team on the ward about how best to care for and support people living with HIV who are inpatients.

It has supported the work of the A & E department in its opt out HIV testing from which we have found seven new HIV diagnoses that may not have been tested otherwise. The ward has also been a great support to our team, sharing equipment and knowledge to support our staff and to improve patient experience and flow through the hospital.

With the fresh start and new space, we felt it was important to open the doors to our wider community. We are lucky to have such amazing support for people living with HIV in the city and wanted to continue these great relationships by working more closely together.

On a weekly basis in clinic, we have:

Lunch Positive offering a place to talk and supporting people to overcome isolation, access their lunch club and other community support services.

Peer Mentoring, offering support in tackling stigma and isolation and promoting empowerment.

Terrence Higgins Trust offering support with housing and welfare, social support and counselling.

The specialist Psychology team have also increased their activity in clinic, supporting patients with their mental health and supporting staff through supervision.

It has been a real privilege to welcome everyone into the new space and feedback so far has been mostly positive. It has been of great benefit to us having all the additional expertise of other organisations in clinic with us. We hope that we have managed to take the important parts of the Lawson Unit with us and continue to build a clinic that works excellently for everyone that access it.