FSRH statement: we support call by cross-party Parliamentary group for an integrated commissioning model for women’s reproductive health

Posted 11 September 2020

Date: 11 Sep 2020

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health (APPG SRH) has published today the final report outlining the findings of its Parliamentary Inquiry into access to contraception in England, relaunched this summer to take stock of the impacts of COVID-19.

The Inquiry found that years of cuts to budgets, the deeply fragmented commissioning system, a lack of support for provision of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) in primary care, recruitment and retention issues as well as the COVID-19 pandemic have made it harder for women to access contraception. The cross-party group of Parliamentarians is calling for an integrated commissioning model for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (SRH), with one body maintaining oversight and holding accountability for commissioning.

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

“Funding and commissioning challenges have led to an overstretched and underfunded Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare service that was not sustainably supported to provide care to women and girls either before or during a pandemic.

“The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare supports the APPG SRH’s call for a more integrated care system that does not create silos between contraceptive care and wider women’s healthcare. We strongly support the recommendation that commissioning responsibility is brought under one body.

“We call on the Department of Health and Social Care to seize the opportunity brought by the reorganisation of Public Health and tackle the long-standing commissioning challenge that has hindered so many women to access the comprehensive care they need.

“The appointment of a National Specialty Advisor for Sexual and Reproductive Health to support the work of the National Clinical Director for Maternity and Women’s Health would be a key step to achieving this, whilst addressing glaring gaps such as the patchy provision of immediate post-pregnancy contraception in maternity and abortion settings.

“SRH care for vulnerable individuals is paramount, and the current limited capacity means that many are falling through the cracks. Sustained investment in person-centred care with clear leadership at national level will address persistent inequalities in Sexual and Reproductive Health.

“We call on the Department of Health and Social Care to adopt the report’s recommendations as it develops a national Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Camila Azevedo, FSRH External Affairs Manager, at cazevedo@fsrh.org or 02037945309.

Notes to Editors

  • The report, ‘Women’s Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the Pandemic’, is available here.
  • The APPG brings together Parliamentarians, experts and campaigners to examine issues within sexual and reproductive healthcare in the UK, and to explore options to improve healthcare through policy and legislative change. The Group is chaired by Dame Diana Johnson DBE MP.

Key recommendations

  • The forthcoming national Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) should recognise and address the reduction in contraception funding across all areas of service provision, and the consequent impact on the most marginalised groups.
  • The forthcoming national Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy from DHSC should incorporate all aspects of women’s sexual and reproductive health needs and recognise the changing needs of women throughout their lives. This will provide a consistent, joined up vision around which providers can work to ensure that population contraceptive needs are met.
  • Co-commissioning should be mandated to ensure that all women can access the full range of contraception via clear, streamlined and well-publicised pathways until DHSC’s engagement on future options for PHE, which presents an opportunity for a broader review of SRH commissioning responsibilities. In the context of the current review of PHE responsibilities, DHSC should consider introducing an integrated commissioning model for SRH, with one body maintaining oversight and holding accountability for all commissioning decisions.
  • The forthcoming national Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy from DHSC should prioritise the need for local streamlined women-centred contraceptive service provision for underserved populations, who are less likely to have frequent and easy access to contraceptive services.
  • DHSC should consider the development of a national digital contraception service. At a minimum, commissioners should ensure there is a dedicated digital contraceptive offer to widen access, and to preserve access if face to face services are suspended. Commissioners should identify digitally excluded groups and ensure they are reached through outreach and other means.
  • Health Education England and DHSC should collaborate to develop a workforce needs analysis and strategy based on population need for the future delivery of SRH services. They should plan and publish analysis of appropriate current and future skill mix and training needs of specialist and generalist contraceptive providers. Local areas should conduct workforce capacity assessment based on their population need. 

About FSRH
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK multi-disciplinary 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.