APPG SRH publishes progress update on Access to Contraception Inquiry report
Date: 26 Sep 2022
Type: All-Party Parliamentary Group on SRH
On World Contraception Day 2022, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health (APPG SRH) is launching a progress update against the recommendations set out in the 2020 Women’s Lives, Women’s Rights inquiry report, which cited that women are finding it harder and harder to access contraception that suits them. The progress report published today finds that 34 of the 38 recommendations have either had no progress or only some progress made against them.
In 2020, the APPG on SRH published the findings of its Inquiry into Access to Contraception following a call for written evidence from individuals and organisations involved in the sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) sector, including the then Minister for Women’s Health, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Advisory Group on Contraception and the Royal Colleges of GPs and Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
The Government welcomed the findings of the report, with then Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care Jo Churchill MP committing to reviewing them as part of the work to develop the SRH Action Plan.
Since then, we have seen some progress against the report’s recommendations. The Government’s Women’s Health Strategy includes welcome commitments to appoint a clinical Women’s Health Lead in NHS England and encourage the expansion of Women’s Health Hubs to provide more holistic, integrated care.
However, there are still a number of areas where progress must be made if women are able to access contraception in a way that meets their needs and have full control over their reproductive health. The update report highlights 5 key areas where progress is still needed:
- Policy leadership at a national level – While we now have a Women’s Health Strategy, we are still without the SRH Action Plan. This is needed to set out consistent, joined up vision around which providers can work to ensure that population contraceptive needs are met.
- Funding – It is not clear whether the SRH Action Plan will include any action to address the real-terms reduction in contraception funding. Without increased funding, areas will continue to struggle to provide high-quality services as well as this increasing pressure on general practice.
- Commissioning structures – The Government has said it will set out duty to collaborate to improve population health outcomes for SRH. This does not, however, mandate co-commissioning and it remains to be seen whether such actions will fulfil the need for an integrated commissioning model for SRH.
- Workforce capacity – We are still without a workforce strategy based on the population need for the future delivery of SRH services. The Government has committed to developing an NHS Workforce Strategy, but it is not known how and whether SRH sits within this. The SRH Action Plan should address SRH workforce challenges.
- Addressing inequalities in access – We know that reduced funding for contraception is likely to most negatively impact marginalised and under-served groups. We have also still without a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities, as called for by the Inequalities in Health Alliance, despite the previous Government’s commitment to publishing a Health Disparities White Paper.
You can read the progress update here.
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