Fresh drive to tackle sexually transmitted infections in Hartlepool

More work to tackle sexually transmitted infections is to take place in Hartlepool after the partnership responsible for sexual health in the area awarded a new contract to provide services to Virgin Care.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 12:52 pm
An HIV test kit at a sexual health centre. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images

The Teesside Sexual Health Commissioning Collaborative – which includes Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton councils, Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England and NHS Improvements North East and Yorkshire – said its existing provider has been awarded a new contract to deliver an integrated sexual health service across Teesside for the next three years.

The company provides 400 frontline health and social care services across England. The new contract went live on August 1, 2021.

Under the new contract, Virgin Care will bring a range of new and innovative services to build on the achievements and system partnerships which they have delivered for the past 10 years.

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Health chiefs said one of the innovations in the contract is 24/7 digital access to sexual health care and advice supported by SH:24, a leading provider of online sexual health care.

The service will enable people to self-manage their sexual health and improve access to a comprehensive range of sexual health services and information such as emergency contraception, STI testing and condoms.

Other core areas in the contract include:

:: Increase in STI screening to reduce prevalence, transmission and late HIV diagnoses.

:: The service is also planning further outreach to find, access and treat people with inequitable sexual health and access barriers working with community partners, delivering street level services and targeting those at greatest risk

Tanya Braun, public health consultant and chair of the collaborative commissioning group, said: “With the new sexual health service we aim to provide high quality local services offering innovative and evidence based approaches for the local community in Teesside.

"We recognise that having excellent accessible services including improved digital support where possible, will help us to improve health outcomes for our people and this is our priority”.

Sarah Lunt from Virgin Care said: “We are delighted to be continuing our work in partnership with GPs, pharmacies and the people across Teesside.

"We have established an effective sexual health service already, and over the next three years we plan to bring even more innovations to continue improving and expanding our service for patients. We share a vision with health commissioners to empower patients to take responsibility for their own sexual health, either independently or with our support”.

Over the next three years, Virgin Care and commissioners have agreed multiple objectives for the service, including:

:: Improve and reduce the sexual health inequalities across Teesside among communities disproportionally affected by poor sexual health

:: Increase uptake of opportunistic cervical screening for all eligible women

:: Increase uptake of HIV testing, with particular focus on first time service users and repeat testing of those that remain at risk across Teesside

::Increase uptake of effective methods of contraception, including long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) for all age groups across Teesside and provided by an array of partners – sexual health clinics, GP surgeries and local community pharmacies.

To find about more about Virgin Care and the new contract, visit: https://www.thesexualhealthhub.co.uk/services-near-you/teesside/

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