FSRH press statement: More than 8 million women of reproductive age are now living in an area where cuts to contraception budgets have taken place

Posted 12 September 2018

Date: 12 Sep 2018

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

Cuts to Contraceptive services.

Almost half of councils in England have cut contraceptive services since the public health budget cuts in 2015, new data by the Advisory Group on Contraception (AGC) reveals. The AGC issued Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all 152 upper tier local authorities in England.

The 2018 AGC FOI audit found that a total of 74 councils (49%) have reduced or plan to reduce the number of sites commissioned to deliver contraceptive services in at least one year between 2015/16 and 2018/19. The number of councils closing services each year has accelerated from 12 out of 138 councils (9%) in 2015/16 to 33 out of 140 councils (24%) in 2017/18.

Councils have been under severe financial pressure including cuts to the Public Health grant. Two thirds of local councils have cut their sexual and reproductive health (SRH) budget since 2016/17. More than 8 million women of reproductive age are now living in an area where the council has reduced funding for SRH services.

Cuts to these services put women’s access to the full range of contraceptive methods at risk. NHS Digital data on SRH services in England has shown a decrease in contacts with SRH services in 2016-17, with prescriptions for long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), the most effective methods of contraception, falling by 6% over the last three years.

Jane Hatfield, CEO of The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“These findings chime with what we are hearing from our members – doctors and nurses working at the frontline of contraception care who are desperately worried about the impact of continuous cuts on their patients. The fact that more than 8 million women of reproductive age are now living in an area where their council has reduced funding for these services is deeply concerning. This is an area of medicine that is no longer funded by the NHS and has been disproportionately impacted by budget cuts to Local Authorities.

Access to free and effective contraception has transformed the lives of women – but it seems we can no longer take it for granted. We are already seeing a drop in cervical screening rates and a drop in prescriptions for long acting reversible contraception – in the long run this will cost society and women far more than the meagre savings it has provided.

Investing in free and accessible contraception is one of the most cost effective health interventions we can invest in. If the government is, as it claims to be, looking for long term, prevention focused cost-effective health interventions it need look no further than sexual health screening and access to contraception."

Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, 27 Sussex Place, London NW1 4RG. Charity No. 1019969.

Notes to editors:
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ.

The AGC is an expert advisory group made up of leading clinicians and advocacy groups who have come together to discuss and make policy recommendations concerning the contraceptive needs of women of all ages. FSRH is a member of the AGC. The AGC came together in November 2010 with a focus on ensuring that the contraceptive needs of all women in England, whatever their age, are met. The full list of members can be found online.The AGC will be launching a campaign paper this autumn documenting the findings of this audit, a year on from the publication of the Group’s 2017 report, Cuts, Closures and Contraception. For more information about the AGC and its work, please visit: http://www.theagc.org.uk

For further information please contact:
Camila Azevedo
FSRH External Affairs & Standards Officer
Email: externalaffairsofficer@fsrh.org
Telephone: 02037945309