FSRH, RCOG and RCGP respond to sexual health report from the Health and Social Care Committee

Posted 2 June 2019

Date: 02 Jun 2019

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

There is no sexual health without women’s health, say leading medical organisations

Responding to the Sexual Health inquiry report by the Health and Social Care Select (HSC) Committee published today, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) emphasise there is no sexual health without women’s health.

Women’s health has suffered the most from the re-organisation of NHS services that followed the implementation of the Health & Social Care Act in 2013. Where once women could have all their reproductive health needs met in one place and one go, women are now subjected to disjointed, non-holistic, disintegrated care. Around half of pregnancies in England are either unplanned or ambivalent.

As evidenced in our submissions to the inquiry panel, FSRH, RCOG and RCGP have reiterated our position on integrated holistic commissioning of sexual and reproductive healthcare, with one body maintaining oversight and holding accountability for all commissioning decisions.

This is outlined in the joint position statement published recently by FSRH, RCOG and RCGP and endorsed by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC).

Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“We echo the Committee’s conclusion that cuts to sexual and reproductive health are a false economy. FSRH fully supports the call for Government to ensure the Spending Review sees increased funding for sexual and reproductive health services.

“We welcome the recommendations on workforce planning and training. We endorse the call for the Harding review to set out a clear direction for the sexual and reproductive healthcare workforce in England.

“We are disappointed, however, that the Committee is not supportive of a fundamental review of commissioning responsibilities for sexual health.

“Sexual and reproductive health services are quite unique among public health services in that they are clinical services, and the current level of fragmentation is having a real and serious impact on many hundreds of people.

“As the body that develops service standards in sexual and reproductive healthcare, the FSRH has a key role to play in helping healthcare commissioners and providers deliver genuinely holistic, person-centred care for all people across the life course, particularly for women, who are disproportionately affected by the lack of funding and coordination across services.

“There can be no sexual health without women’s health.”

Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said:

“Women continue to struggle to access high quality sexual and reproductive healthcare services which remain fragmented and under-funded across the country.

“Therefore, we welcome the Select Committee’s calls for appropriately funded sexual health and reproductive healthcare services, as well as a joined-up approach to the commissioning of these services. However, we are disappointed that the report does not support our calls for a single commissioner to end the fragmentation of services.

“Women should have all their sexual and reproductive health needs – such as cervical screening, family planning, contraception and STI testing – met in a single place.

“A single accountable commissioner is essential to achieving this goal. It would also ensure that sexual and reproductive healthcare services are more joined up for women and the workforce is better supported and resourced.

“Improved funding will address years of cutbacks which have disproportionally affected women, impacted the quality of services and created a false economy, as early prevention is key to improve health outcomes for individuals, and to save NHS costs in the long term.

“We strongly support the report’s calls for immediate action on the provision of cervical screening to improve attending rates. Meanwhile, it is worrying that abortion care has not even been considered, as this essential area of women’s health is intrinsically linked to sexual and reproductive healthcare.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“Sexual and reproductive health services are vital for patients, and are one of the most cost-effective health interventions in the NHS, potentially saving millions through prevention of unwanted pregnancies and transmission of STIs, as well as helping women control their fertility and therefore their lives.

“Cuts to funding for sexual and reproductive health services, and the fragmented way in which they are commissioned, threaten the huge amount of progress that has been made in these areas in recent years, and it is encouraging that the Health Select Committee have recognised this. But whilst their report calls for more joined-up commissioning, we would have liked to see it go further by calling for a single commissioner for all SRH services.

"Sexual and reproductive health services are too important to be allowed to fall into decline, and we will continue to work with RCOG, FRSH and others to ensure that women – indeed, all of our patients – have easy access to and receive the best possible sexual and reproductive health care.”


Notes to editors

For a copy of the press release and report, please contact the Health and Social Care Committee press office: Telephone: 020 7219 8878 / 075 4651 7626 Email: williamsjb@parliament.uk

For media queries and more information, please contact:

The RCOG press office
Telephone: 020 7045 6773
Email: pressoffice@rcog.org.uk
Camila Azevedo, FSRH External Affairs & Standards Manager
Telephone: 0203 794 5309
Email: externalaffairsmanager@fsrh.org

  • The FSRH, RCOG and RCGP joint position statement on Holistic Integrated Commissioning of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare can be found here: https://www.fsrh.org/documents/fsrh-rcog-rcgp-position-holistic-integrated-srh-commissioning/
  • RCOG call for urgent action to increase cervical screening attendance rates: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/call-for-urgent-action-to-increase-cervical-screening-attendance-rates/
  • RCOG President Professor Lesley Regan is co-chairing a Women’s Health Taskforce which aims to make improvements to healthcare services for women and girls across the country.https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/womens-health-taskforce-for-england-is-launched/

About the FSRH
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. For more information please visit: www.fsrh.org

About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. www.rcog.org.uk