Sexual health back in the spotlight

THE issue of sexual health in Hartlepool and the work being done to improve it will be back under the microscope tomorrow as an inquiry into the topic continues.

The subject is being examined in a six-month inquiry by Hartlepool Council’s Health Scrutiny Forum, which is exploring the key issues surrounding sexual health in Hartlepool, including the sections of the population which are most at risk from sexual infections.

The forum is also looking in detail at the services currently being provided, examine whether they meet the needs of local people and make recommendations on whether more needs to be done.

It will meet again at 9am tomorrow in the Council Chamber in Hartlepool Civic Centre. Members of the public are welcome to attend this and future meetings.

Voluntary and community sector groups and youth groups have been invited to attend Thursday’s meeting to provide evidence on the sexual health support services which are available.

Representatives of local schools have also been invited to give evidence on the sex and relationships education provided in schools and its effectiveness.

There will also be reports by Louise Wallace, director of public health, on the progress of the work being done to tackle teenage pregnancy in the town and on what additional sexual health needs might need to be addressed.

Sexual health is one of a number of topics being looked at by scrutiny councillors as part of a major piece of work – called the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) – to assess whether the health and social care needs of local people are being met.

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, Chair of the Scrutiny Forum, said: “Our investigation is set against the background of a rise in sexually-transmitted infections across the UK as a whole in recent years and a teenage pregnancy rate in Hartlepool which is higher than the English average.

“Deprivation, social exclusion and sexual health are all inextricably linked and we want to ensure that everything possible is being done to meet the needs of people in Hartlepool and that the services and support available is easily accessible to everyone.

“Members of the public are most welcome to attend all the scrutiny meetings and to contribute to them.”

For more information about this investigation – including how to submit evidence – contact scrutiny support officer Laura Stones on (01429) 523087 or e-mail