Healthwatch Briefing on Sexual Health - July 2019

Our latest briefing paper provides an overview of the pressures and challenges facing sexual health services both nationally and in Brighton and Hove, and draws attention to how funding and commissioning challenges may be affecting provision.
Several people, male and femail, older and younger, in a doctors waiting area.


Improving local sexual health services and ensuring adequate provision is a priority for Healthwatch in 2019/20. We are aware that Brighton and Hove has some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in the country and that local services face high demand.

In response, we undertook research of reports, other publications and data relating to sexual health to try to understand the challenges facing services and providers. This included an examination of national and local funding levels and commissioning of relevant services.

Our findings


  • Brighton has committed at the international level to ending HIV transmission
  • Brighton has very high STI levels, and certain groups are disproportionately affected
  • There is high demand for services
  • Services are introducing novel ways to cope with demand by improving services
  • The current contract for the provision of statutory sexual health services is due for renewal after 31st March 2020.


  • Levels of STI diagnoses (not including HIV) are increasing
  • Sexual health services are under increasing pressure due to high demand
  • Funding levels may not be sufficient to meet current and future demands
  • Fragmentation of commissioning may be affecting service provision

Highlighting the pressures

By highlighting the pressures facing sexual health services we hope to start a wider conversation with commissioners and public health to ensure that local services are able to meet current and future demands.

We are also aware that our local Council has public commitments regarding ending HIV transmission in the city and it is vital that the services which will deliver these targets are adequately supported.

Possible actions

We acknowledge that there is no single action which will deliver change, but amongst possible actions are:

  • identifying possible improvements to the commissioning process;
  • recasting service specifications to meet needs and determining how best to affect individual behavioural change via the use of targeted marketing and ongoing education.

We  shared our findings with Health and Wellbeing Board in July 2019.


You can download the report here. If you need it in a different format, please contact us at or 01273 234 041.

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