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RCOG/FSRH joint statement in response to the NHS England Long Term Plan

News 7 January 2019

The NHS Long Term Plan has been announced today to ensure that patients will be supported with world-class care at every stage of their life. The plans are backed by the funding increase of £20.5 billion every year by 2023/4 for the NHS in England.

Professor Mary-Ann Lumsden, Senior Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said:

“We welcome the Government’s announcement of a Long Term Plan for the NHS and £20.5bn a year additional funding by 2023/4, which marks an important step forward in ensuring the sustainability of the NHS.

“It is fundamental that we have a laser-sharp focus on making sure that the workforce gets the support, skills and training it needs to deliver the highest quality care for patients. One of the major strengths of the NHS is its staff. We particularly welcome the focus on increased flexibility and the need to rebalance generalist and specialist skills so that we attract and retain a strong workforce.

“Together with key stakeholders, including other Royal Colleges and organisations that play a major part in workforce planning, we welcome the opportunity to contribute to a new workforce implementation plan by the spring to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of the workforce. This will build on activities which are already an integral part of the Maternity Transformation programme.

“The plan sets out an ambitious roadmap for supporting the NHS and ensuring that England is the safest place to have a baby. To support this aim, the RCOG is calling for a national maternity centre to be established, bringing together the shared expertise and experience of women and families, frontline maternity teams, academics and policymakers, aimed at reducing the number of stillbirth and pre-term births by 2025. 

"Also, since one in five women experience a mental health issue in the first year of her baby's life, these plans will include the development of maternity outreach clinics offering perinatal mental health support for new parents with children up to two years old

“The RCOG is particularly heartened to see the plan’s focus on addressing health inequalities, across all life stages, including a focus on ethnicity and deprivation in maternity services. It is unacceptable that 34% of women living in deprived areas experience poor health, compared to 17% in other parts of the country.

“We strongly believe there also needs to be a targeted approach to improve the health of women. They represent 51% of the UK population and play an influential role in the nation’s health, yet they are disproportionately affected by inequalities in access to and quality of care. We believe it is crucial to develop a national women’s health strategy.

“Setting up Integrated Care Systems (ICS) everywhere and to include clinical leadership is a progressive way to ensure we address unmet needs within local health populations. We are calling for a specific and measurable goal around women’s health to be included as local plans are developed.”

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

“FSRH welcomes the NHS long term plan. We are pleased to see a focus on prevention, inequalities and workforce development. FSRH looks forward to working with the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care to deliver on the plan.

"Prevention and health promotion should be the starting point of any effective long-term plan for the NHS. However, ongoing cuts to other parts of the system such as to Public Health will prove a major challenge for the NHS to fulfil its pledges. Despite not being included in the NHS funding settlement announced last year, Public Health must be significantly embedded in the delivery of the plan if prevention is truly to be at centre stage.

"Another starting point should be investment in the people who passionately and selflessly deliver the best care possible against daily pressures. We have consistently pointed out the crisis in the sexual and reproductive health care workforce, with vacancies left unfulfilled, senior professionals retiring without the system coping to fill these gaps, and a neglect in training.

"We welcome the pledges on a workforce implementation plan and a national workforce group and look forward to working with the NHS, NHS Improvement and Health Education England on these commitments.

"Finally, we echo RCOG’s call on a women’s health strategy and the development of specific goals on women’s health as Integrated Care Systems are rolled out across the country. These should be based on a life-course approach to women’s health, including pre- and post-pregnancy contraceptive care.”

Notes to Editors

For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 7045 6773 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk.

  • The Department of Health and Social Care announced a maternity care package, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, in December 2018. Read the RCOG’s statement in response.
  • The RCOG published the findings of a survey of over 2,300 women with mental health problems and revealed the impact of low rates of specialist referrals, long waits, as well as lack of consensus over medication and little support for their partners. The report includes a number of key recommendations to improve support and care for women.
  • The RCOG is dedicated to improving the obstetrics and gynaecology workforce. Read about our ‘Supporting Our Doctors’ campaign. 
  • The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a Women’s Health Taskforce for England which will be jointly led by Jackie Doyle-Price MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide and Professor Lesley Regan, President of the RCOG.

About the RCOG
The RCOG 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 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