We support amendments to the Health and Care Bill to help drive SRH improvements

Posted 22 November 2021

Date: 22 Nov 2021

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

The Health and Care Bill – detailing key legislative reforms to the NHS – is today entering report stage, providing an opportunity for the proposals to be examined by Parliament. The Bill, alongside the Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy and the Women’s Health Strategy, provides an opportunity for greater integration and collaboration within the healthcare system – helping to support a holistic, integrated approach to sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH).

We are working with partners to support amendments to the Bill we believe will help lead to greater oversight and accountability in women’s health and ensure that the SRH workforce is equipped and supported to provide high quality care.

We have been working closely with Diana Johnson MP, as Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK, to table an amendment on membership of integrated care partnerships (ICPs) – with the aim of helping to ensure women’s health can be represented at a place-level via secondary legislation.

The cross-party amendment would enable the Secretary of State to make provisions about representation of particular areas of healthcare in the membership of ICPs – the bodies responsible for bringing together a wider set of system partners to develop a plan to address the broader health, public health and social care needs of the local population.

Diana Johnson MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK, said:

“Given that – historically – we’ve seen how input from women in relation to their healthcare can often be an afterthought, it cannot be assumed that their voices will be heard on all ICPs. This amendment would enable us to work with the Government to see this critical representation.”

With workforce shortages being one of the main factors leading to decreased access to SRH, we are also strongly in support of the amendment tabled by Jeremy Hunt MP, as Chair of the Health and Care Select Committee, focused on strengthening workforce planning.

The amendment – supported by over 60 health and care organisations – would mean that the Secretary of State must publish independently verified assessments of current and future workforce numbers every two years. This would better enable strategic long-term decisions to be made about investment in the workforce.

We are also supportive of an amendment put forward by Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP to strengthen NHS England’s duty around reducing inequalities. The proposal would mean that NHS England must publish guidance about the collection, analysis, reporting and publication of performance data on health inequalities. It would also require relevant NHS bodies, such as Integrated card boards (ICBs) and ICPs to take account of such guidance.