FSRH press statement: number of women accessing services for contraception falls 13% since 2014/15

Posted 4 October 2018

Date: 04 Oct 2018

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

FSRH welcomes the publication, by NHS Digital, on data on sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) services in England for the year 2017-18. The majority of contraception is provided in primary care; however, a significant number of women, nearly 800,000 last year, used specialist SRH services to access contraception on one or more occasions. Although this number had been rising up until 2014/15, it has since fallen for three consecutive years, a drop of 13% over the last 3 years.

NHS Digital reports that there were 1.79 million attendances in dedicated SRH services made by 1.14 million individuals in 2017-18, a decrease of 5% on the number of visits in 2016/17 and a fall of 28% in the last ten years.

Between 2016/17 and 2017/18, the number of attendances fell across all age groups. Young women aged 18-19 were the most likely to access SRH services and emergency contraception in these settings. However, the number of attendances by 18-19 females has fallen sharply from 22% in 2013/14.

NHS Digital SRH 2018

Source: NHS Digital

The NHS Digital data speaks directly to the recent findings from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request issued to all 152 upper-tier local authorities in England by the Advisory Group on Contraception (AGC), which found that two thirds of local councils have cut their SRH budgets 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.

Jane Hatfield, Chief Executive of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“The NHS Digital data reinforces worrying trends which our membership has been voicing for a long time. Of particular concern is the continuing decline in the number of women being able to access sexual and reproductive healthcare services for contraception.

We are seeing the impact of the pressures faced by services and local authorities due to reduced funding and service fragmentation. Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services will have short and long-term consequences for women and our communities.

Reduced access to sexual and reproductive health will directly cost the NHS and wider economy, as opportunities to offer both preventative and emergency care are missed. Cuts to public health funding and sexual and reproductive healthcare services must be reversed urgently.”

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

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

Notes to editors:

  • In this publication, SRH services include family planning services, community contraception clinics, integrated Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) and SRH services, and young people’s services e.g. Brook advisory centres. Data from GP settings and pharmacies is not included - this is only included in data about prescriptions in the community (prescriptions written by GPs and non-medical prescribers such as nurses, pharmacists and others).
  • The NHS Digital data on Sexual and Reproductive Health Services, England - 2017/18 can be found here.
  • The FOI audit by the Advisory Group on Contraception (AGC) can be found here
  • 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