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Support for five-year contract for Sunderland’s sexual health services

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Council bosses have backed plans to seek a new five-year contract for sexual health services in Sunderland.

Earlier this year, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet agreed to pay £1million to extend their current contract in their search for a new provider to lead the services forward.

These include Contraception and Sexual Health Services (CASH) and the screening/treatment of sexuallly transmitted diseases or Genitourinary Medicine (GUM).

Currently, the services are provided by City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust at two seperate locations at Sunderland Royal Hospital with the extended contract expected to lapse in September next year.

While a three-year contract was originally proposed, council bosses agreed to extend this to five years, with the option to extend for two further 12 month periods.

This aims to give the successful provider time to seek, source and equip suitable premises for the service – which is yet to be decided.

Cabinet members, sitting at Sunderland Civic Centre, heard the changes would provide greater stability and less disruption to service users as the service shifts to an “integrated delivery model”.

Cabinet member for children’s services, Coun Louise Farthing, said that the current GUM service is a “very obvious building” with anyone using it feeling a “walk of shame”.

She said current proposals were the product of council scrutiny – a year-long process that started when public health services were transferred to the council.

As work is carried out seek an operator for the scheme, a full financial assessment will be carried out in line with available public health budgets, a report adds.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service