More about Sexual Health Improvement Programme (SHIP)


The Sexual Health Improvement Programme (SHIP) was set up as a Bristol Health Partners Health Integration Team in 2013. It brings together experts from across disciplines to improve the sexual health of people in the region and reduce sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The team supports the commissioning of evidence-based sexual health services.

Members are from a range of organisations including the University of Bristol, University of West of England, Unity Sexual Health, Public Health England, Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council and voluntary sector sexual health providers.

We are planning to support education events, patient and public involvement (PPI) and support new funding bids. Our project manager Haley Pearson can help identify collaborators, liaise with the research design service to support new funding applications and advise on data analysis.

We are very happy to hear from you at any time with your ideas for how SHIP can add value to the great work which is going on in our area (contact Haley on

Aims and objectives

Our overall aim is to support the commissioning of evidence-based services to improve the sexual health of our population and reduce sexually transmitted infections.

A major focus for the next three years will be examining and developing strategies, including vaccination, for combating the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in sexually transmitted infections.

Our themes

In 2018, we have worked with SHIP members to refresh our themes and update our aims. We have agreed the following themes. Please indicate which themes you would like to join using our online survey.

Increasing uptake of HIV testing

  • Working towards 90:90:90
  • Making Bristol a fast track city for HIV: zero new infections and zero stigma

Improving STI testing and responding to antimicrobial resistant (AMR) infections

  • Host workshop on STIs and AMR with BASHH
  • Evaluate new diagnostics for STIs
  • CT testing - improve targeting
  • IMPACT PCT - centralised PN system

Patient and public involvement in sexual health: ending stigma

  • Embed PPI in all activities
  • CHOP study

Ending domestic violence

  • Cross-HIT working group on domestic violence

Reducing health inequalities and ending stigma

  • Localised targeting of media campaigns
  • Supporting behaviour change and health promotion
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Non-binary / trans health – trans friendly

Informatics and digital transformation

  • PN centralisation, EPR, data linkage
  • Online services, for example, new EHC service under discussion
  • Informatics to improve reduce teenage pregnancy

Developing a national network

  • External SHIP co-director Dr Harding-Esch
  • Influence commissioning and combat cuts to services

Who's involved

The HIT leadership team is made up of commissioners, academics, clinicians and public health specialists working in the field of sexual health.

  • Director: Paddy Horner, Consultant Senior Lecturer, University of Bristol and GUM Consultant, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
  • Director: Katy Turner, Senior Lecturer Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University of Bristol
  • Director: Jo Copping, Consultant in Public Health, Bristol City Council and Public Health England
  • Honorary director: Emma Harding-Esch, London School Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • PPI lead: Jayne Meyrick, Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology, UWE
  • Annette Billing, Public Health Principal, Bristol City Council

For a full list of HIT members and collaborators visit the who’s involved page.

We welcome new members - please email Haley Pearson to be added to the SHIP mailing list.

Projects and activities

The projects SHIP is focusing on include:

  • Integrated and cost-effective management of common STIs diagnosed in primary care
  • Evaluation to understand distribution of chlamydia diagnosis by mapping, linking and enhancing data on testing and diagnoses
  • Improved access to PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV) for high risk men who have sex with men through the CHOP study to understand barriers and facilitators
  • Reduce time to test result for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through the installation of PANTHER machine in Central Health Clinic to enable rapid testing for common STIs and faster treatment
  • Undertake studies of new diagnostic tests (including detection of antimicrobial resistance markers for M genitalium) and clinical pathways, with industrial partners and HPRU EI
  • Collaborative working to detect HIV earlier by promoting offer and uptake of tests through primary and secondary care
  • Ensure views from less heard groups (men who have sex with men, Black, Asian and minority ethnic and women on the abortion pathway) are able to influence service delivery and development

SHIP’s work is informed by the local needs assessment process. Issues we’ve identified include:

  • Future services need to reflect the needs of key population groups with a higher risk of poor sexual health outcomes, particularly vulnerable young people, men who have sex with men, people with learning difficulties, some Black and minority ethnic groups, people involved in sex work and homeless people.
  • Evidence suggests that, both locally and nationally, sexual health behaviours are becoming more risky. Changing cultures have led to emerging issues such as the practice of chemsex (use of injecting drugs to increase sexual pleasure), sexual exploitation, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment, sexual bullying and sexism. Sexual health professionals need to be responsive to these changes.
  • Strategies are needed to prevent the harmful effects of the increasing sexualisation of society, particularly the effect on young people.
  • Reducing the late diagnosis of HIV needs to be addressed across our area. Key to this is encouraging regular testing amongst high risk groups, including men who have sex with men and Black African communities.
  • We need to maintain the downward trend in teenage conceptions.
  • The rising rates of STI diagnoses need to be addressed through increased prevention efforts, including improved access to STI testing and condoms, to reduce further transmission of infection. Men who have sex with men, Black and minority ethnic and deprived groups are disproportionately affected by STIs: these inequalities need to be addressed.
  • Increasing the knowledge, awareness and access to contraception options, particularly when having a termination, would reduce the number of repeat terminations.
  • Ensuring clear signposting and referral pathways are established between mental health services, drug and alcohol services and associated voluntary organisations across all sexual health providers will improve efficiency.

SHIP have a regular newsletter which you can sign up to if you want to hear more about their work. Email Haley Pearson to be added to the newsletter mailing list.


To find out more please contact:

Haley Pearson on

SHIP at the HIT conference

SHIP presented this poster (PDF) at the 2018 Bristol Health Partners Health Integration Team HIT conference.

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