Editor's Note - November 2018 issue SH, RH & HIV Policy eBulletin
Date: 12 Nov 2018
Author: Helen Christophers
Helen Christophers, Independent Health Policy Consultant, has compiled and edited the Sexual Health, Reproductive Health & HIV Policy eBulletin since its first edition in November 2012. In this Editor’s Note, she shares the topline results from a recent reader survey and reveals the key issues that continue to concern those working in the sexual health, reproductive health and HIV sector locally.
On the 15 November the 5Oth edition of the Sexual Health, Reproductive Health & HIV Policy eBulletin was issued. The eBulletin was originally developed by MEDFASH as a source of policy information for sexual health service providers, commissioners and others during the challenging transition period that followed the Health and Social Care Act 2012. In 2017, the production of the eBulletin was transferred to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), who brought on board a coalition of sector organisations to support it.
Now, six years on and 50 issues in, it is significant that the eBulletin continues to be a valued and trusted source of information and stakeholder commentary on issues relevant to the commissioning and provision of sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services. But how do we know this?
What readers say about the eBulletin
FSRH conducted the most recent online survey of eBulletin readers in summer this year. The results are encouraging: 96% of respondents agree that the eBulletin is a reliable source of information on policy relevant to sexual health, reproductive health and HIV and over four out of five (85%) agree that it has been a useful reference point for their sexual health work during the last 12 months. Both of these figures are up from previous surveys in 2013 and 2015.
Comments from the 2018 survey
‘Essential for sexual and reproductive healthcare professionals, informative, helps to keep me updated with sexual health matters including wider context’
‘Excellent resource, use the contents frequently to aid discussion, CPD and changes in practice’
‘Excellent it supports almost all of the work I carry out - evidence based and current’
An excellent resource which I trust fully’
How it impacts on their work
It is important to get a sense of whether and how the eBulletin is impacting on the work of those who read it and to know that it is not just sitting in inboxes. Again, the results speak for themselves: over 70% of respondents indicated that they had discussed information in the eBulletin with colleagues, over 65% that they had read something in the eBulletin (eg research or report) that influenced or strengthened how they approach their work and nearly half (49%) had read something in the eBulletin (eg change in guidelines) which they then put it in to practice.
Issues of concern in relation to the commissioning and provision of services
Feedback from the initial survey in 2013 identified over half a dozen issues that were of concern to those providing and commissioning sexual health services locally. In 2015 and again in the most recent 2018 survey, we asked readers to rate their current level of concern on these issues (on a scale of 0-5, 5= extremely concerned).
- Funding of services registers the highest level of concern in 2018, with 70% of respondents indicating they were extremely concerned about funding, this is up from 60% in 2015
- Funding of prevention work comes a close second, with 67% of respondents indicating they were extremely concerned about this issue – again up from 59% in 2015
- Almost half of respondents indicated they were extremely concerned about fragmented commissioning (49%), potential loss of integrated services (44%) and investment in training (45%): these percentages are marginally higher or about the same as in 2015
- Just under a quarter of respondents indicated they were extremely concerned about accountability at local level (23%) and procurement processes (21%): these percentages are lower than in 2015
Additional issues of concern raised in the most recent survey include: recruitment and retention of staff; loss of specialist skills and loss of dedicated young people’s services.
Survey Monkey online tool was used to collect information from eBulletin readers. The survey was publicised in the August issue of the eBulletin and was open for two months. 168 readers completed the survey, a response rate of around 12% based on current subscriber numbers.