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Holding up the mirror: how to use quality assurance, peer review to improve sexual health
  1. Justine Womack1,
  2. Philip Kell2,
  3. Gabriel Scally3
  1. 1Public Health England, Bristol, UK
  2. 2Rivergate, Torbay Sexual Medicine Service, South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Torbay Hospital, Torquay, UK
  3. 3WHO Collaborating Centre for the Built Environment, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Justine Womack, Public Health Directorate, 2 Rivergate, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6EH, UK; Justine.Womack{at}


The Office for Sexual Health was established in the southwest of England in January 2010 as a Department of Health pilot to bring together all elements of sexual health policy to address the fragmentation of effort created by having separate national programmes for different elements of sexual health. The Office for Sexual Health established a peer review process to quality assure the commissioning, delivery, evaluation and governance of sexual heath services across the southwest, based on a whole system, partnership approach to improvement that focused on all aspects of sexual health. This was carried out under the auspices of a sexual health services stakeholder Board, chaired by a Primary Care Trust Chief Executive, with a clear focus on providing leadership for continued improvement. The methodology involved local areas undertaking a self-assessment against national standards and providing evidence to underpin this, a review of data and a 1-day peer review visit. Each local area received feedback on the day and a follow-up report with recommendations. An evaluation of the peer review programme was carried out. The programme identified some common issues across local areas, which were addressed at an above local level by the Office for Sexual Health. Evaluation highlighted that the programme was valued by peer reviewers for sharing learning and that local areas had found the feedback constructive and helpful.


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