The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) respond to Sexual Health inquiry report by the Health and Social Care Committee published today.
The report addresses key issues affecting sexual health services. Recommendations on funding and workforce planning are welcome, but those on commissioning do not go far enough to address a fractured system for women’s health.
Women’s health has suffered the most from the re-organisation of NHS services that followed the implementation of the Health & Social Care Act in 2013.
The RCOG, FSRH and RCGP gave evidence to the inquiry panel which reiterated our joint position on integrated holistic commissioning of sexual and reproductive healthcare, with one body maintaining oversight and holding accountability for all commissioning decisions.
This is outlined in the joint statement published recently by FSRH, RCOG and RCGP and endorsed by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.
Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“Women continue to struggle to access high quality sexual and reproductive healthcare services which remain fragmented and under-funded across the country.
“Therefore, we welcome the Committee’s calls for appropriately funded sexual health and reproductive healthcare services, as well as a joined-up approach to the commissioning of these services. However, we are disappointed that the report does not support our calls for a single commissioner to end the fragmentation of services.
“Women should have all their sexual and reproductive health needs – such as cervical screening, family planning, contraception and STI testing – met in a single place.
“A single accountable commissioner is essential to achieving this goal. It would also ensure that sexual and reproductive healthcare services are more joined up for women and the workforce is better supported and resourced.
“Improved funding will address years of cutbacks which have disproportionally affected women, impacted the quality of services and created a false economy, as early prevention is key to improve health outcomes for individuals, and to save NHS costs in the long term.”
Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, said:
“We echo the Committee’s conclusion that cuts to sexual and reproductive health are a false economy. FSRH fully supports the call for Government to ensure the Spending Review sees increased funding for sexual and reproductive health services.
“We welcome the recommendations on workforce planning and training. We endorse the call for the Harding review to set out a clear direction for the sexual and reproductive healthcare workforce in England.
“We are disappointed, however, that the Committee is not supportive of a fundamental review of commissioning responsibilities for sexual health.
“Sexual and reproductive health services are quite unique among public health services in that they are clinical services, and the current level of fragmentation is having a real and serious impact on many hundreds of people.
“As the body that develops service standards in sexual and reproductive healthcare, the FSRH has a key role to play in helping healthcare commissioners and providers deliver genuinely holistic, person-centred care for all people across the life course, particularly for women, who are disproportionately affected by the lack of funding and coordination across services.
“There can be no sexual health without women’s health.”
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:
“Sexual and reproductive health services are vital for patients, and are one of the most cost-effective health interventions in the NHS, potentially saving millions through prevention of unwanted pregnancies and transmission of STIs, as well as helping women control their fertility and therefore their lives.
“Cuts to funding for sexual and reproductive health services, and the fragmented way in which they are commissioned, threaten the huge amount of progress that has been made in these areas in recent years, and it is encouraging that the Health Select Committee have recognised this. But whilst their report calls for more joined-up commissioning, we would have liked to see it go further by calling for a single commissioner for all SRH services.
"Sexual and reproductive health services are too important to be allowed to fall into decline, and we will continue to work with RCOG, FRSH and others to ensure that women – indeed, all of our patients – have easy access to and receive the best possible sexual and reproductive health care.”
Notes to editors
The report is published on the Health and Social Care Committee website.
For media queries and more information, please contact:
RCOG press office
Tel: 020 7045 6773
Camila Azevedo, FSRH External Affairs & Standards Manager
Tel: 0203 794 5309
The RCOG, FSRH and RCGP published a joint position statement on holistic integrated commissioning of sexual and reproductive healthcare.
RCOG President Professor Lesley Regan is co-chairing a Women’s Health Taskforce which aims to make improvements to healthcare services for women and girls across the country.
About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.
About the FSRH
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