APPG SRH consultation response: APPG SRH responds to the Government’s Women’s Health Strategy: Call for Evidence

Posted 15 June 2021

Date: 15 Jun 2021

Type: All-Party Parliamentary Group on SRH

The All Party-Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK (APPG SRH) – a group of cross-party MPs and Peers – has responded to the call for evidence from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to inform the development of the Government’s Women’s Health Strategy.

The Group’s response focuses on the findings of its Inquiry into Access to Contraception, which was first opened for evidence in 2019 and reopened in May 2020 to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s access to contraception in England.

The development of a Women’s Health Strategy is a key opportunity to drive improvements across women’s reproductive healthcare services – ensuring that women no longer face barriers accessing this essential form of healthcare.

Key points in the APPG SRH’s response:

  • During its Inquiry, the APPG SRH heard of problems associated with funding, commissioning and workforce resulting in women having to travel unacceptably long distances or wait for far too long to access contraception. Despite the best efforts of many practitioners, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted these existing problems and further restricted access to contraception for many women.
  • Evidence presented to the Inquiry suggests that SRH budgets were cut by £81.2 million (12%) between 2015 and 2017/18. During the same period, it is estimated that contraceptive budgets were cut by £25.9 million (13%).
  • The closure and restructuring of services during the pandemic are likely to have had the most adverse impact on the most marginalised communities. Additionally, service providers have faced challenges communicating changed models of service provision with hard-to-reach service users and those who are not digitally literate.
  • Organisational silos within women’s health created by issues relating to funding, workforce and compounded by fragmented commissioning and inadequate lines of accountability result in gaps in care pathways and hinder women from receiving the best possible care.
  • An integrated commissioning model for SRH healthcare should be introduced to ensure that all women can access the full range of contraception via clear, streamlined and well-publicised pathways.
  • The restoration of services after the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the reorganisation of the functions of PHE, provides a unique opportunity for national and local government to reshape contraceptive services according to the needs of women themselves and to make more efficient use of NHS resources.

Read the full response here - APPG SRH submission to Women's Health Strategy.