Reducing reproductive health inequalities – bringing the FSRH Hatfield Vision to life

Posted 17 Aug 2023

Date: 17 Aug 2023

Author: Dr Janet Barter

Just over a year ago, FSRH launched the Hatfield Vision – a policy blueprint, aiming to build consensus and mobilise stakeholders across the system to maximise Government commitments on sexual and reproductive health. In this month's eFeature, Dr Janet Barter, President of FSRH, reflects on the progress made in bringing the FSRH Hatfield Vision to life.

janet

Reducing reproductive health inequalities – bringing the FSRH Hatfield Vision to life

Many women and girls experience poor reproductive health outcomes, with almost half of all pregnancies in the UK being ambivalent or unplanned. There are also widespread disparities in maternal health outcomes, with Black women almost four times more likely to die from childbirth in the UK than White women.

Women and girls consistently face inequalities in reproductive health outcomes, as well as in their access to services. Contraception, abortion, menstrual healthcare, and other areas of women’s health are neglected within the health system, with their provision being fragmented and disjointed across different providers making them increasingly difficult for patients to access  

Just over a year ago, FSRH launched the Hatfield Vision – a policy blueprint, aiming to build consensus among stakeholders across the system on how we can maximise Government commitments on sexual and reproductive health – including through the Women’s Health Strategy in England.

It features 16 priority goals and 10 priority actions across women’s health. The Vision is in essence a framework, outlining what needs to be achieved by 2030 to significantly reduce sexual and reproductive health inequalities for women.

The FSRH Hatfield Vision honours the legacy of Jane Hatfield, the first CEO of FSRH and passionate advocate for women’s healthcare, who worked tirelessly to improve the quality of reproductive healthcare that every woman and girl receives. Jane died from ovarian cancer in 2021.

Celebrating the launch of the Hatfield Vision Taskforce

In June, I chaired the first meeting of the FSRH Hatfield Vision Taskforce, with Dr Ranee Thakar, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and Dr Michael Mulholland, the Royal College of General Practitioners’ (RCGP) Honorary Secretary and Women’s Health Lead, serving as Vice Chairs. 

The Taskforce is made up of representatives from the organisations which have endorsed the Vision, along with senior stakeholders from Government. Bringing the sector together enables us to leverage specialist experience to deliver on the aims of the FSRH Hatfield Vision. I was thrilled to see so many organisations represented, and to welcome Dame Lesley Regan, the Government’s Women's Health Ambassador for England, to the meeting.

This forum for cross-sector collaboration will allow us to maximise our impact in reducing inequalities in reproductive health outcomes and service provision. The launch of the Taskforce is a significant step forward in improving access to sexual and reproductive healthcare for women, girls, and those assigned female at birth.

Realising the Hatfield Vision’s priorities

Last month, one year on from the publication of the Women’s Health Strategy, we welcomed a series of announcements from the Department of Health and Social Care, particularly the establishment of a network of women’s health champions.

The network will be co-chaired by NHS England, and made up of senior leaders from each Integrated Care System. The women’s health champions will use their expertise and knowledge to push forward improvements in the health of women and girls.

This announcement marks significant progress against one of the key actions of the FSRH Hatfield Vision, Action 6, which calls for a women’s health lead to be appointed within Integrated Care Systems.

There is plenty more to do. At the Taskforce meeting, we agreed on our priority areas for implementation, and working groups were set up to take these forward. The first three working groups will focus on:

·       Improving access to emergency contraception.

·       Improving access to post-pregnancy contraception and enabling collaborative commissioning.

·       Ensuring universal access to free menstrual products within health services and schools.

These working groups will harness the collective strength and expertise of Taskforce member organisations.

Reaching a milestone: 50 endorsements

We recently marked a significant milestone for the FSRH Hatfield Vision – over 50 organisations have now endorsed the Vision.

There are endorsements from leading organisations across healthcare, public health, the public sector, and the charity sector, demonstrating a strong commitment to tackling inequalities within sexual and reproductive healthcare and improving health outcomes for women.

These endorsements put the Hatfield Vision Taskforce in a uniquely strong position to draw on all our endorsing organisations’ expertise, and commitment to this work.

I look forward to continuing to work with all our partners, and the Government, to support the implementation of the Women’s Health Strategy and to help deliver the FSRH Hatfield Vision.

By 2030, we want to see reproductive health inequalities significantly improved for all women and girls, enabling them to live well and pursue their ambitions in every aspect of their lives. Join us!

You can learn more about the FSRH Hatfield Vision and how to get involved here.

If your organisation would like to join our growing list of endorsers, you can do so by contacting shanieh@fsrh.org.