Asha Kasliwal reflects on 25 years of the FSRH
Date: 26 Mar 2018
FSRH President, Dr Asha Kasliwal reflects on FSRH's history and its future direction.
It is an enormous privilege to lead the largest professional membership body working in sexual and reproductive health. I am delighted we have reached this important milestone of our 25th anniversary.
When I chose to move into the field of SRH from obstetrics and gynaecology, many people advised me against it – it was seen as low status with few jobs. But I could see how important it was – and is – from my experience of treating women. In so many ways it demonstrates what the future of healthcare should be – community based services built around the patient, with a focus on prevention not just treatment. I am delighted that the Faculty is playing an increasingly important role in highlighting the importance of access to contraception and SRH for all.
I would like to pay tribute to our members past and present who have made the FSRH what it is – it is your clinical expertise, knowledge, time and support that makes us effective and increasingly listened. Below I briefly reflect on our past, present and look to the future. Please share your stories of the Faculty with us.
The Faculty was established on 26 March 1993. However the foundations date back to 1974, when approximately 1000 family planning clinics that were run by the Family Planning Association were handed over to the NHS to be managed by the Local Area Health Authority Public Health departments. Sounds familiar! This left no medical body to represent doctors working in this field that could facilitate sharing of good practice and the development of standards, guidelines and training. The RCOG established a Joint Committee on Contraception (JCC) in partnership with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), which took over the FPA's training role. In 1974, the National Association of Family Planning Doctors (NAFPD) was formed to represent doctors working in the field and disseminate good practice.
The first president of NAFPD was Professor Sir Stanley Clayton who was also President of the RCOG, which cemented the connection between the RCOG and what is now the FSRH. NAFPD published the first issue of what has now evolved into the BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Journal the following year in 1975.In the same year, general practitioners started to be paid for prescribing contraception, with the UK becoming the first country in the world to provide contraceptives free of charge. A solid foundation was now in place on which the subsequent work of the FSRH could be built.
FSRH funded a film in 2017 by the EGA Institute for Women's Health, UCL, to help illustrate what it was like for women before contraception and abortion were widely available. The film, Not for Nice women, Contraception before and after 1967, can be viewed here on youtube.
The FSRH today
We know there are many challenges for our members working to deliver effective SRH care, but I am always reassured to see their passion and enthusiasm to keep working to improve standards of care to our patients.
The organisation has always heavily relied on its members to volunteer their time, and whilst the staff are increasingly working more proactively, we still rely on the work of the 200+ members who lead us and serve on our committees.
We now have our own speciality, have trained 1000s of clinicians in SRH and are working very hard to raise the profile of SRH in front of policy makers. It is now very common for us to hear politicians, NHS bodies such as Public Health England and regulators including the CQC to talk about sexual and reproductive health and contraception in the way they simply were not doing a few years ago. This is an encouraging sign for the medium and long term future of our specialty and our work.
This year you can help us celebrate and raise the profile of SRH by getting involved in the activities we have planned for the rest of the year. You can find out more on our anniversary page on our website here.
We have exciting plans for the year ahead as highlighted by Jane Hatfield in her blog. We hope you can input into our ‘Where next for the FSRH’ project - we want to hear from as many members as possible to help shape our work to 2025.
We intend to continue to work hard to ensure that the next 25 years brings about our vision of SRH being ‘delivered by multi-disciplinary teams with appropriate competency, training and experience – making effective use of their different skills to achieve shared outcomes’. We will continue to champion the work of our members as well as reaching out to others delivering SRH care.
We will never be complacent about the need to champion access to good sexual and reproductive healthcare – as well as helping you to achieve this in your roles, we hope you will help shape and deliver our work over the coming 25 years.