FSRH consultation response: FSRH responds to the Governments Women’s Health Strategy: Call for Evidence

Posted 14 June 2021

Date: 14 Jun 2021

Type: FSRH Consultation Responses

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has launched a call for evidence to inform the development of the Governments Women’s Health Strategy.

In our response we focused on the urgent need to repair the fractured system that currently exists, and the necessary actions needed to reverse years of harsh cuts on SRH services. We hope the Government takes this opportunity to design a healthcare system for women with women’s voices at its core.

Key points in FSRH’s response:

• SRH services in particular have become notoriously fractured in recent years, making them increasingly difficult for women to navigate and access. Many women are struggling to access basic services including contraception and cancer screening because of cuts in funding and a deeply fractured commissioning landscape.

• The APPG SRH, in its Parliamentary Inquiry into Access to Contraception, found that women in England are facing difficulty in accessing contraception, with many being bounced from service to service, which can result in more unplanned pregnancies and increased demand for maternity and abortion care.

• Access to SRH care is highly cost-saving. For every £1 spent on publicly-funded contraceptive services, £9 is saved, most of which is realised in the NHS.

• A lack of overall accountability and ownership in women’s reproductive healthcare has led to variations in access and quality of care. It is unclear in the current system who holds final responsibility for ensuring access and improving health outcomes.

• We believe that there is a need for SRH to be more broadly integrated into women’s healthcare pathways in the NHS. Holistic SRH care means listening to women and integrating care around the needs of the individual, not institutional silos.

• We urge DHSC to consider the joint position on integrated Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare commissioning by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), Royal Colleges and Faculties, which calls for women’s reproductive healthcare to be more broadly integrated into women’s health pathways in the NHS.

• The fragmentation of commissioning responsibilities will likely remain until there is one single accountable commissioner for women’s health at national and ICS level, holding accountability for commissioning and outcomes in women’s health. We believe it is also crucial that a SRH lead is represented in ICS Health & Care Partnerships’ Boards.

• The Women’s Health Strategy and SRH Strategy clearly represent a unique opportunity to tackle the long-standing barriers to the delivery of holistic women’s reproductive health. However, this will only be possible if there is synergy between both strategies.

Read the full response here.