Flick Thorley: HIV and chemsex nurse

Feb 20, 02:00 AM

Flick Thorley was a senior nurse at the London Lighthouse AIDS centre, before identifying the crystal meth problem in London in the late nineties.

This week, I meet a woman who has been professionally and personally involved in the HIV epidemic since 1985. After nursing some of the first people to live and die with HIV in New Zealand, Flick came to the UK and was a Charge Nurse at London Lighthouse from 1994-1998. 

London Lighthouse - most famously visited by Princess Di - offered comprehensive, compassionate care to people dying of AIDS and their loved ones. 

Following the closure of the Lighthouse residential unit, Flick became the HIV psychiatric liaison nurse at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. She identified the initial crystal meth problem in London and was instrumental in setting up what has become the highly successful chemsex and club drug clinic. 

Six months into their relationship, Flick and her partner Professor Chloe Orkin were seconded to Botswana to set up the country’s Antiretroviral Programme. Due to Botswana’s laws, Flick and Chloe weren’t able to be out as lesbians or a couple throughout their six months there. (Chloe features in Season One of The Dorothy Project!)

Flick took medical retirement in 2011, and now volunteers with her three (ADORABLE) dogs as a pet therapist in hospices and hospitals in London.

If you’re an LGBTQ person worried about your drug or alcohol use, or that of a friend or family member, then there’s plenty of support on offer:
In London:
Antidote
In Manchester:
The LGBT Foundation
In Birmingham:
Birmingham LGBT 
If you’re straight or don’t live in one of these cities, there are drug and alcohol services provided by every local authority - you’ll be able to find out where yours is from your local authority’s website.