FSRH Statement: NHS data shows contraception provision shows signs of recovery post pandemic in community clinics and GP practices

Posted 30 September 2022

Date: 30 Sep 2022

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) welcomes the publication of annual statistics on Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (SRH) services by NHS Digital, which shows some increase in the uptake of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), the most effective methods of contraception. However, there was a 12% decrease in LARC prescriptions in primary care compared to pre-pandemic levels.

NHS Digital data published today shows a 4% fall in contraception-related contacts with SRH community services in 2021/22 compared to 2020/21. In addition, the data shows:

  • Around 56% of women in contact with SRH services for contraceptives were using a LARC, an increase of 10 percentage points from 46% in 2020/21. However, the total number of women in contact with SRH services for contraceptives who were using a LARC decreased from 343.000 in 2019/20 (pre-pandemic levels) to 256.600 in 2021/22.
  • In primary care, prescriptions for LARC saw a 7% increase between 2020 and 2021; however, if we look at the pre-pandemic figure from 2019, there is a 12% decrease in LARC prescriptions in primary care.
  • An increase in emergency contraception provided in community SRH clinics. There was a 20% increase in items provided compared to 2020/21; however, the 2021/22 figure was 32% below the 2019/20 pre-pandemic figures.
  • There has been a continued decrease in the number of emergency contraception prescriptions by GPs and pharmacists, with 4% fewer in 2021 than 2020.

Dr Janet Barter, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, (FSRH), said:

"We welcome the publication of annual statistics on Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (SRH) services by NHS Digital. We are pleased to see that contraceptive provision shows some signs of recovery both in SRH services and primary care.

“However, it is still deeply concerning to see that recovery is far from optimal, with long-acting reversible contraception, the most effective methods to prevent unplanned pregnancies, still lagging behind pre-COVID levels, particularly in primary care.

“SRH services are still recovering from COVID-19, and monkeypox is adding an additional strain on already overstretched services. As a result, women and girls are being side-lined, facing increased waiting times and backlogs. We know that some services have had to stop essential care such as LARC, and so we are likely to see the same trends continuing. This is adding additional pressure on other parts of the system, such as general practice, which is struggling to meet overall demand and prioritise SRH care.

“It is crucial that everyone in need of contraception can access comprehensive care wherever they choose to. We call on the Government to ensure SRH in primary and community settings is adequately resourced. It is crucial that the SRH Action Plan is fully funded to reverse the effects of years of de-prioritisation, so that both SRH services and primary care are able to recover from the pandemic and, additionally, tackle monkeypox.”


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

Notes to editors

  • Access the NHS Digital data here
  • Earlier this month, we’ve released a statement on the impact of monkeypox, co-badged by the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The statement presented some insights from a recent survey conducted with our members, showing that monkeypox is impacting Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (SRH) services, diverting clinical capacity and hampering women’s access to basic SRH care. It called on the Government to resource SRH services adequately, so that they can effectively support the efforts to tackle monkeypox and ensure everyone is able to access the SRH care they need.

About FSRH
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the leader in the field of sexual and reproductive healthcare, and we are the voice for professionals working in this area. As a multi-disciplinary professional membership organisation, we set clinical guidance and standards, provide training and lifelong education, and champion safe and effective sexual and reproductive healthcare across the life course for all.