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Sexual Health Strategy for County Durham 2023-2028 consultation

Have your say on our new sexual health strategy that will support the sexual health needs of the people of County Durham.

Thank you to everyone, who contributed to this consultation, everything you said was gratefully received. Feedback gathered from an online questionnaire and several focus groups resulted in several amendments being made to the draft Strategy.

For example, the language used to describe vulnerable groups was changed to reflect a wider audience, the way GP's can support the Strategy with the uptake of Long Acting Reversible Contraception was strengthened and the use of the acronyms 'RE' meaning, Relationship Education (for Primary age pupils) and 'RSHE' meaning Relationship, Sex and Health Education (for secondary students) was changed so that it was much more clear.

The feedback received has also been used to help create the five-year work plan that will support the Strategy.

The Sexual Health Strategy has now been approved by the Health and Wellbeing Board for County Durham. The final document can be found at Sexual health.


Sexual health is a fundamental public health issue - it is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. Sexual health includes:

  • genito-urinary medicine (health, medicine and treatments for all the organs of the reproductive system or the urinary system)
  • sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • HIV
  • contraception
  • psychosexual medicine (therapeutic medicine practiced by psychologists to support with the treatment for issues around sex, and/or in some cases, gender)
  • abortion services
  • teenage pregnancy
  • sexual and reproductive health

Sexual health services must be provided by law as an important aspect of our overall health. They are delivered in various places, including by us, GPs, pharmacies, community and voluntary organisations, schools, colleges, universities and youth services. Most services are contracted through County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust (CDDFT) and is free to all ages (including under 16s):

  • health advisors, doctors, sexual health nurses and support staff
  • all contraceptive methods 
  • the diagnosis, treatment and management of sexually transmitted infections
  • HIV care and partner notifications
  • the promotion of safer sex 
  • support for individuals in relation to sexuality and healthy sexual relationships 

The Strategy

Our strategy shows how we would like to improve the overall sexual health of people in County Durham, improve access to sexual health services, promote healthy sexual behaviour, reduce rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unintended pregnancies and reduce health disparities.

It sets out why sexual health is important and outlines County Durham's vision and priority areas over the next five years. It has been developed by us in partnership with organisations that deliver services, the NHS, community and voluntary sector organisations and County Durham people. A variety of partners have also been involved including Age UK, HumanKind, DC Youth Project, Investing in Children, and the 0-25 service. The strategy has been also developed considering national priorities and considerations such as the Women's Health Strategy for England (July 2022). It will be used by all professionals working in public health and sexual health services.

There will be a five-year action plan that runs alongside the strategy to support the work and measure the improvements. 

Five priorities

The five priority areas of the strategy which we will focus on are: 

1. Supporting all children and young people in Durham to access high quality Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE)


  • continuing to support schools, colleges and Durham University to develop and implement a RSHE curriculum 
  • targeting support (where necessary) to mainstream education settings and alternative education providers
  • targeting support for children and young people in their communities and in community venues to help support RSHE in a variety of ways

2. Providing pregnancy support for young parents


  • supporting the development of health promotional messages focusing on vulnerable young people
  • working with our relevant NHS Trusts to provide effective post-natal contraception and supporting access to contraception choices
  • continuing to provide bespoke support to young parents including support to prevent repeat pregnancies and increase the support needed to access employment, education and training

3. Improving access and increasing awareness of different types of contraception


  • increasing the Long Acting Reversible Contraception, such as a coil, injection or implant, offer and take up across county Durham 
  • making sure services work well together to offer a choice of contraception 

4. Reducing the stigma of STIs and HIV, and focusing on prevention and early intervention


  • supporting community-based services including pharmacies through things such as information sharing and training to promote early testing messages and normalise testing. 
  • increasing opportunities to access testing in the community
  • increasing overall testing

5. Supporting reproductive health


  • a reduction of repeat abortions through various practices including GPs working to support contraception choices, pharmacies being trained to deliver emergency contraception
  • a reduction in the number of mothers who are smokers at the time they deliver their babies
  • increasing the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme, to protect against certain cancers caused by HPV, to pre Covid-19 levels
  • expanding work with older adults to provide the right type of sexual health services that meet their needs including contraception advice, healthy relationships, menopause and erectile disfunction

The strategy document

Icon for pdf Draft Sexual Health Strategy (PDF, 1.5mb)

Have your say

This strategy is aimed at the many professionals that support the day-to-day work of the needs as described in the priority areas. We are currently consulting with the people directly affected by this proposed change, support workers and relevant charities and support organisations, to understand how the change would affect them and how best to support them and reduce any impacts.

It is also very important that you give us your views and understand how your overall health is being considered and planned for. We want to know what your think and if we have missed anything.

The consultation closed for comments at 5.00pm on Sunday 6 August 2023.

Next steps

All feedback from this consultation will be reviewed and considered in support of the final version of the strategy. The Strategy will seek approval from the Health and Wellbeing Board in September 2023 and will be published online.

Contact us
Contact Public Health
03000 264 109
Our address is:
  • Adult and Health Services
  • Durham County Council
  • Green Lane
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DL16 6JQ