OBJECTIVE: To compare the commissioning of contraception services by London health authorities with accepted models of good practice. DESIGN: Combined interview and postal surveys of all health authorities and National Health Service (NHS) trusts responsible for running family planning clinics in the Greater London area. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Health authority commissioning was assessed on the presence of four key elements of good practice--strategies, coordination, service specifications, and quality standards in contracts--by monitoring activity and quality. RESULTS: Less than half the health authorities surveyed had written strategies or service specifications for contraception services. Arrangements for coordination of services were limited and monitoring was underdeveloped. CONCLUSION: The process of commissioning services for contraception seems to be relatively underdeveloped despite the importance of health problems associated with unplanned pregnancy in London. These findings raise questions about the capacity of health authorities to improve the quality of these services through the commissioning process.
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