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Our partnerships unlock sexual health service transformation for Teesside

How we worked with four local authorities, two Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS England to deliver sexual health services and make a difference in the Teesside community.

  • We designed a sexual health model to meet the needs of the local community with better access and more choice for people.
  • Our focus was on prevention, education and training, and services for young people.
  • Rather than focusing on the amount we deliver; we used our significant experience to improve the quality of patient outcomes.
  • We developed a highly trained workforce, able to move between boroughs and offered targeted outreach sessions to different population groups.


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Virgin Care

The Challenge

Teesside is a large and complex area, with sexual health services for the population of half a million falling under the responsibility of four local authorities and two CCGs, as well as NHS England.

With high levels of deprivation, and a predominantly older population, as well as high (but declining) teenage pregnancy rates, the area presents unique challenges in providing a comprehensive sexual health service, which meets those local needs and improves public health in the area.

Reducing teenage pregnancy rates further, increasing detection of infections such as Chlamydia and diagnosing more HIV infections earlier – when they can be treated more effectively – are all priorities for commissioners.

We have been responsible for the sexual health services in the area since 2011.

The Solution

As a trusted partner we worked with local authorities to commission a high quality and integrated sexual health service across Teesside, with better access and more choice for local people.

  • We implemented our sexual health model with a focus on prevention, education and training, and services for young people.
  • The service is committed to improving the sexual health of people by providing a free, confidential and non-judgmental service. Clinics offer chlamydia and asymptomatic screening, provision of young-people friendly services, access to contraception and outreach, and the prioritisation of HIV prevention.
  • We developed a highly trained workforce, able to move between boroughs and offer more targeted outreach sessions to different population groups.
  • Admin processes were centralised to create one way of managing information and avoid cross-charging between the four boroughs.
  • By offering patients immediate quality of service in the short term, but with a focus on long term service transformation is a highly attractive proposition to those choosing to partner with us.
  • With our expertise, we supported the service to improve value for money to the commissioners and taxpayers by lowering running costs whilst improving access; we did this by moving from four high-rent premises to two lower-cost but more suitable locations. One of our new hubs within the Redcar Community and Leisure Centre is much more convenient for users and saw a 10 per cent increase in footfall since the move.
  • The Middlesbrough hub has re-located to a building in the centre of town shared with drug and alcohol, family support teams, and mental health services, allowing greatly improved links with these organisations and on-the-spot referrals of their users to the sexual health service.
  • We have continually developed industry leading digital provision – STI postal testing, contraception and triage, to support our physical clinic resources.


During the first ten years of the service, we have worked collaboratively with commissioners to constantly review and remodel sexual health care across Teesside.

We have been awarded a contract up to July 2024, with the option of three years further extensions. This has paved the way for an integrated sexual health service for potentially six more years.

The service works efficiently and effectively to improve patient outcomes and is highly rated by users. We see consistent high scores on the ‘Friends and Family’ test and receive positive feedback through quarterly questionnaires. Patient engagement is still key for us and our commitment to an ever-improving, patient-centric service.

Teesside celebrates success by holding an annual sexual health conference, at which an award is offered to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to sexual health services. We proudly partner with a system that shares our passion for recognising improvements in sexual health services. The conference attracts 100 people each year from a range of professional backgrounds and combines plenary sessions with practical workshops.

The learning from Teesside’s collaborative commissioning has also been shared through presentations to meetings of public health directors across the region, facilitated by Public Health England.

We are proud to share best practice with our system partners and remain committed to running a best-of-breed operating model.

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