FSRH responds to Women and Equalities Select Committee inquiry

Posted 5 May 2020

Date: 05 May 2020

Type: FSRH Consultation Responses

The Women and Equalities Select Committee has launched an inquiry to examine the effects of COVID-19 on people with protected characteristics. In our response, we outline the ways in which vulnerable girls and women have been impacted by changes to SRH service provision during the COVID-19 pandemic. We call on the government to take the following actions:

  • Work together with local authorities to ensure that essential SRH services as outlined by FSRH guidance remain accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that SRH clinics are adequately staffed, and that PPE is provided to all staff.
  • Enhance the local authority mandate in relation to contraceptive services. 
  • Work together with commissioners and professional membership bodies, including FSRH, to devise post COVID-19 plans to restore SRH services. Support these services through investment and guidance.
  • Urge MHRA to reclassify POP from ‘prescription-only’ to ‘pharmacy product’, thereby making them easily accessible, while reducing any unnecessary pressures on GPs. Girls and women should also be able to order them online, again to reduce pressure on services.
  • Amend contraceptive regulations so that pharmacists can legally supply a 6-month supply of oral contraception instead of the current one-month supply limit. This will reduce strain on services, and enable vulnerable women and girls to access contraception without needing to attend a contraceptive service.
  • Develop a national digital service platform for SRH across the UK, which will serve as a one-stop point of access for the general public and will support the maintenance of access to essential care – including contraception, STI and HIV testing and treatment, and abortion care. This service should operate seamlessly with regional face-to-face services – providing effective triage and a streamlined care pathway for those patients referred for face-to-face treatment. 
  • Increase investment into current SRH services to ensure their continued operation. This includes scaling up existing digital infrastructure, so that regional digital services can provide better and more comprehensive care. In addition, increase long-term investment in SRH services, to ensure that service provision can be restored and improved in the years ahead.
  • Integrate the option for remote care as a permanent feature of abortion care across the UK. 
  • Urge the UK public health authorities - Public Health England, Public Health Wales, Public Health Scotland, and the HSC Public Health Agency – to monitor and publish real time trends of conception, abortion, and birth rate, so the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on these trends is monitored and can be responded to accordingly.

Read our full response here.