FSRH statement: dismantling of PHE risks loss of continuity of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare interventions

Posted 19 August 2020

Date: 19 Aug 2020

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

The Government has announced the establishment of the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP), a merger of NHS Test and Trace with Public Health England (PHE), which will cease to exist. Vital areas such as prevention and health improvement risk falling through the cracks without ownership and accountability across the system. We call on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to include organisations such as the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) in the Stakeholder Advisory Group to provide advice around the future of PHE’s remaining functions.

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

“The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare has been a long-standing partner of PHE in the effort to improve access to high-quality Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare for all.

“We are deeply concerned that the demise of PHE during the pandemic will mean the loss of expertise and continuity of much needed interventions and strategies such as PHE’s Reproductive Health Action Plan. We are also concerned that PHE’s crucial data and analysis function will lose its population health dimension if shifted to other NHS bodies.

“Evidence shows that almost half of British women experience poor Sexual and Reproductive Health. For years now, contraceptive services have suffered with a lack of accountability and ownership, which has led to variation across the country and a system where prevention is disincentivised. Women have been disproportionately affected by fragmented commissioning of services and cuts to the Public Health budget. This is despite contraception being one of the most cost-effective Public Health interventions, with every £1 spent on contraception saving £9 for the public sector.

“Public Health is much more than health protection and the management of infectious diseases. PHE’s supports vital areas such as Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, improving the health and wellbeing of the population and tackling health inequalities. This is a crucial role in the wider health and social care system, preventing it from being overburdened with increasing demand.

“The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has stated that the role of the NHS has to change from a focus on disease to one of prevention, and that health improvement remains a Government priority. Therefore, we call on his Department to ensure Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare is not lost with the dismantling of PHE, and we look forward to collaborating to achieve this via the new Stakeholder Advisory Group, which will feed into this process.

“We call on the Government to protect expertise, ensuring that Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare is integrated into the wider Public Health and NHS system, as well as to seize the opportunity to tackle the commissioning challenge once and for all. The upcoming national Sexual and Reproductive Health strategy by the Department of Health and Social Care is the right vehicle to accomplish that.”


Notes to editors:

  • The immediate aim of the NIHP is to revamp the operational capabilities for the COVID-19 response. The Government’s announcement 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 further information please contact:
Camila Azevedo
FSRH External Affairs Manager
Email: cazevedo@fsrh.org
Telephone: 02037945309