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News

New Society for Abortion Care Providers

14 Aug, 15 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

BSACP

The British Society of Abortion Care Providers (BSACP) has been formed to promote best practice, education, training and research in abortion care. The BSACP is open to those involved in the provision of abortion care including doctors, nurses, midwives, counsellors, clinical support workers and managers. The BSACP will serve its members by providing a forum for professional development and networking, as well as by raising the profile of the specialty and improving understanding amongst those responsible for abortion-related policy, guidance, commissioning, regulation and training.

See the BSACP website for details of the Society, how to become a member and the Inaugural meeting to be held at the RCOG on 29th October 2015

Sue Capstick – Queens Nurse.

26 Mar, 15 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

One of the first sexual health nurses in the country to be given the prestigious title of Queen’s Nurse (QN) by community nursing charity The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) hails from Lancaster.

Sue C

As reported in the Lancaster Guardian, Sue Capstick is service manager for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Contraception and Sexual Health (CaSH) Service. Sue said:

“It was an honour to find out I had been awarded the title of a Queen’s Nurse. “The CaSH service is committed to providing excellent care to the people in Lancashire.“The team work together to continually develop new and innovative ways to ensure people receive the highest quality of care. I am proud to be part of such a dedicated and compassionate team and look forward to continuing to improve the sexual health for people in the future.”

A Queen’s Nurse is someone who is committed to high standards of practice and patient-centred care and Sue’s career demonstrates her dedication to the field of sexual health nursing.

She began her nursing career in 1980 and has worked as a sexual health nurse for over 30 years. In that time she has worked in Africa developing sexual health and HIV programmes as well as being a member of a sexual health nursing advisory panel at the Department of Health, developing the competencies required to work in this specialty.

For the past few years Sue has been leading a piece of work in Blackburn which is focused on providing information to women about the various contraception methods available to make informed choices and as a result avoid unwanted pregnancies. The title is not an award for past service, but indicates a commitment to high standards of patient care, learning and leadership.

Nurses who hold the title benefit from developmental workshops, bursaries, networking opportunities, and a shared professional identity.

Sue is the third member of staff at the Trust to be awarded the title . A ceremony will be held later this year in London for the Queen’s Nurses to be presented with their awards.

Many, many congratulations for a well-deserved award.

Google, Sex and Censorship

5 Jan, 15 | by shaworth

Men Only Tayside is a sexual health partnership which has developed beween NHS Tayside Sexual Health and Tayside’s Blood-Bourne Virus Managed Care Network which aims to provide unbiased information and sexual health services for men who have sex with men (MSM) and men who have sex with women and men (MSWM) in the Tayside area of Scotland. Recently, they have been the focus of media attention after developing an app, in conjunction with local firm Faff Digital, to support the information on their website.

The Men Only Tayside (MOT) app was accepted by Apple to the Apple Store with the caveat of a mature (17+) rating, but was rejected outright by Google Play, the main provider of apps to the Android market. Reported in the Dundee Courier, Google’s response to the developer John-Paul Thain, was that the app violated their stance on gratuitous sexual content, in essence equating it with pornography. The rejection was appealed, and again turned down.

Looking over their website, the information is succinct and well-presented. They provide information on their campaigns, volunteering opportunities, how to obtain free condoms and sexual health testing in addition to providing a wealth of unbiased information on common sexual behaviours and how to stay as safe as possible if you choose to experience them. It also includes information on HIV diagnosis, local support and legal information.

If it was aiming to provide arousing erotica, then I’m sorry to say that it fails miserably. The MOT app’s content presumably mirrors that of their website, where the nudity on display is a single male nipple (as an android user, your humble blogger is unable to review the app itself…).

The app’s developer believes that part of the problem is Google’s automated app assessment system, which seems to equate any kind of sexual content as being pornographic. As Google is essentially the gatekeeper for Android users to legally download apps, their prudish filtering essentially denies those users access to high-quality, impartial sexual health advice. Whilst it may have legal obligations to prevent the supply of pornographic material to minors, does it also not have a duty of care to those who are legally entitled to engage in sexual behaviours. In the UK, there is no divison between the legal age of consent for men who have sex with men versus those who have sex with women. This age is 16, and Apple’s maturity setting already puts this app out of reach of young men who can engage legally engage in sex with other young men.

The app’s problem relates to the idea of net neutrality, and whether Google has a public duty to allow this information to enter the public domain. Google is not a public body, it’s a corporation in the same way that Facebook, Apple and Twitter are, which means that it essentially retains the right to decide whether it supports certain information provision or not, regardless of whether or not users have a legal right to access this information. Should this be the case? Does Google occupy the same position as a restaurant where a woman wishes to breastfeed? In UK law, this may be the physical property of a company, but has been deemed a public place, and as such, a company is unable to prevent the woman from feeding the infant, regardless of nipple visibility.

Google’s policy, automated and dictatorial, is not a good one. Apple’s confusion between health advice and erotica isn’t either. The problem of private companies acting as gatekeepers of cultural morality is not a new one. Walmart, a supermarket chain in the United States (and who control ASDA in the UK) have a longstanding policy of refusing to stock music which has been labelled with the “parental advisory” sticker indicating explicit content. With their large stake in the market, this puts pressure on artists to avoid lyrics that are controversial, ultimately acting as indirect artistic censorship. Ultimately, our confusion between private company and public body is not good either, and perhaps it’s time for us to start questioning our own stance on the matter.

Sex Ed

27 Nov, 14 | by shaworth

The teaching of sex education in British schools remains a divisive topic at the forefront of media attention as the Government considers its position on whether or not the teaching of Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) should become mandatory in England and Wales

At the moment, all maintained secondary schools must provide SRE. This means that Free Schools and Academies, which are not obliged to follow the National Curriculum are excluded from this requirement, and primary schools can choose to provide it depending on the decision of their governing body. The National Curriculum contains a mandatory component on the teaching of reproduction as part of the science curriculum, but parents have the right to withdraw children from the teaching of SRE as part of Personal, Health and Social Education (PHSE) teaching, a right laid down by the Education Act of 1996.

The Government’s initial investigation into the state of SRE in England and Wales found that a third of schools did not provide adequate sex education, often with too much focus on the mechanics of reproduction, and little emphasis on the importance of relationships.

Obviously, as time marches on, the relationships and the pressures on young people change over time. The age of internet communication has brought with it new social problems that could not have been predicted when the idea of sharing information with computers was first postulated. The first generation of people growing up with access to the internet have access to explicit sexual imagery and obscure fetishes that their parents went in ignorance of. The government’s review of whether or not SRE should be compulsory, one might therefore argue, comes several years too late.

The fundamental question at the heart of the current Parliament Select Committee is whether or not all children have a right to SRE, and whether all schools should therefore be required to provide it. Last week the committee took views from witnesses representing both interdenominational and faith schools to try to answer this question.

Faith schools often have moral standpoints on sex and relationships laid down with the code of their religion. A interesting point raised is that students attending the school, and therefore followers of that religion, may feel that SRE which doesn’t take into account faith views to not be applicable to them, which was a reason raised by both the Catholic (Philip Robinson, Religious Education Adviser, Catholic Education Service), and Islamic (Yusuf Patel, Founder, SRE Islamic) representatives as to why SRE should not have a mandatory curriculum, allowing schools the freedom to teach within the confines of their faith. It was also suggested that if parents felt their children could not be taught SRE viewpoints consistent with their own religious views would feel pressured to withdraw them from the lessons.

This point was rather eloquently put down by one of the questioning MPs, Siobhain McDonagh (around 10:10am for those watching the video), who enquired as to whether the faith viewpoints on alcohol and drug misuse education as part of PHSE was a concern to parents whose faiths had particular teachings on the subject. The response of the witnesses was that it would be hard to argue against an education on the dangers of alcohol and drug misuse, even if a faith had strict prescriptions against their use. Naturally a comparison to the potential dangers of sex was drawn, and to which neither faith representative could voice an argument against in this context.

Ultimately, the only way to find out if compulsory SRE improves the quality of SRE delivery, and as a secondary outcome improves our unplanned pregnancy rate, rates of STIs and sexual assaults, is to implement and carefully evaluate what the effect on these outcomes are. In the meantime, as professionals, we just have to do our best to educate the young people who cross our paths, and provide them with the best service possible.

The Three Ghosts of Child Protection

9 Oct, 14 | by shaworth

It’s been a depressing time for child protection in the UK recently. Admittedly, child protection work rarely hits the headlines for the right reasons, as confidentiality restricts the pronouncement of victory, and the media rarely gets excited about restoring safety and normality. The prevention of bad outcomes doesn’t make for headlines that sell newspapers in the same way that terrible events do.

This year, historical accusations of abuse have been a recurring feature in the news, sometimes too late for justice to be served, but sometimes with successful convictions against perpetrators who probably thought they had gotten away with it. Many of us felt that the public figures involved in these crimes were people that we could trust, and feel a sense of revulsion that we innocently did so. At the same time, it is some comfort to see that fame is no protection from justice.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the widespread sexual abuse of vulnerable children in Rotherham, which has garnered widespread media attention, sometimes for the wrong reasons, with several media outlets quick to place the blame on the race of the perpetrators, and ignoring the police inefficiency at following up complaints. Perhaps what’s most worrying are the disturbing reports of attempts to silence those who spoke up to report the abuse, and the repeated instances of incompetence such as losing or destroying evidence.

Earlier this month, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg announced new legislation that will make a failure to report child abuse a crime. The motion was originally tabled by the Prime Minster in July, and takes the form of an amendment to the Series Crimes Act, which is currently sponsored by the Bishop of Durham and Baroness Walmesly. Concerns have been raised that this may result in malicious or nuisance reports, but where similar legislation has been enacted abroad, the proportion of reports deemed to be nuisance, has not been shown to have increased.

For those of us who work with vulnerable children and adolescents, the knowledge that our attempts to keep children safe, and bring justice to those who seek to harm them are being undermined elsewhere is disheartening in the extreme. We as medical professionals can only so much to collect evidence and share with external agencies, in the hope that due processes will be followed.

We can but hope that an increased media focus on child protection issues will encourage the government to fund social work and charitable organisations which work to safeguard children, but for all the talk of Big Society, the lack of cohesion between voluntary sector organisations and local authorities has been thrown into sharp relief by the publication of the Centre for Social Justice’s Report “Enough Is Enough” earlier this year, which worked with the charity Kids Company to detail instances of failure to act by local authorities where the charity had voiced concerns.

In Ofsted’s 2013 social care report, the cost of looked after children had increased by £173 million pounds, and at the same time, funding for social work had decreased by a quarter over the last four years, with an overall 4% decrease in social worker psoters. Whilst local authorities with difficulties achieving good quality safeguarding services for children have complex problems underneath, a lack of funding is a chronic drain on any social work budget.

In the last month, in an attempt to rectify child protection serves which had been found to be inadequate, Doncaster has removed child services from the local authority, instead setting up a third party, not-for-profit organisation to manage services instead. Obviously, this had raised accusations of stealth attempts at privatisation; although the company will continued to be funded by the local authority. This is not the first attempt to manage childrens’ services in this way, and results from previous similar initiatives have been mixed, largely blamed on chronic budget cuts.

Ultimately, children are safer now than previously, and it’s a testament to the hard work of those in child protection that this is the case; however, we cannot continue to make gains in this area unless we are willing to priorities support for the most vulnerable who need our help.

Marie Stopes International launches “Time to Act: Achieving a world where no woman dies from unsafe abortion”

25 Sep, 14 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

Ahead of World Contraception Day (September 26th) Marie Stopes International (MSI) is launching Time to Act: Achieving a world where no woman dies from unsafe abortion to coincide with the UNGA’s deliberations on the 1994 Cairo agenda and the post-2015 goals.  A copy of the report is available here: http://www.makewomenmatter.org/timetoact.

Part of MSI’s Make Women Matter campaign, the report brings to light the damage being caused by the unmet need for contraception and unsafe abortions and warns how much worse the situation is yet to become as the developing world faces its biggest population growth in history.

Young People And Their Experiences of Anal Sex

21 Aug, 14 | by shaworth

Readers of the Journal may have come across the recent study into teenage attitudes towards anal sex in heterosexual couples by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, published last month via their Online First initiative already, but if you’ve not, it makes interesting reading for anyone working in young people’s sexual health.

Existing data suggests that anal sex between heterosexual couples is on the rise, and often increased access to pornographic materials in the digital age is cited as the reason behind this; although the evidence to suggest this is limited. Recent data, according to this study, suggests that 1 in 5 young people has tried anal sex.

The study took place in three centres in England, surveying 130 young people in total with various levels of interviews. Questions involved their perceptions of their own experiences, their partner’s experience and their reasons for trying anal intercourse. The answers seem to confirm some of the previous hypotheses, but with pornographic material being a small factor in why young people explored the idea of anal intercourse; although the belief that anal intercourse would be more pleasurable for the male partner due to a linked believe that “tightness” was integral to male sexual pleasure during penetrative intercourse, and encouragement from peers to try anal intercourse as part of a sexual conquest, were also prevalent attitudes amongst male interviewees.

Perhaps what’s most worrying is the evidence that some men felt that they had a right to coerce partners into trying anal intercourse, despite holding the belief that female partners would find anal sex painful. To those of us interested in the wider climate of sexual equality and sexual behaviour, this isn’t a shocking finding. The idea that some men feel entitled to sexual favours from women, and how this defines their behaviour and attitudes towards them, has been a centrepoint of modern feminist debate in recent years.

The study is of value to those working in sexual health, particularly with young people. It highlights that young people are unaware of the risks to their sexual health with regard to anal intercourse, and suggests that targeted interventions to improve condom use and safe anal intercourse is needed in this group. It also suggests that the worrying disparity between male and female experiences of anal intercourse needs to be addressed, perhaps through initiatives that empower young women to control their own sexual experience, and perhaps through initiatives that educate young men on how to achieve sexual pleasure for their partner as well as themselves.

Sexual Health Organisations Put Pressure On Politicians Before Polls

18 May, 14 | by shaworth

England goes to the polls for its local elections on May 22nd, and leading sexual health bodies are challenging politicians to commit to investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health. The combination of BASHH, BHIVA, Brook, FRSH, FPA, MEDFASH, Terrence Higgins, the National AIDS trust, and the National HIV Nurses Association issued a joint statement:

“Sexual and reproductive health and HIV is an important issue for the whole electorate. In February 2013, the Department of Health published a Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England which set out a series of ambitions that, if achieved, would ensure everyone has the information, support and services they need to lead healthy lives.”

“We call on all those standing for election to provide leadership to achieve these ambitions and to commit to support investment in sexual and reproductive health, including access to all forms of contraception, HIV prevention and testing, and support services.”

Readers will remember that sexual health services in NHS England went out to tender earlier this year. Local services may wish to address their potential representatives about these issues in hustings, or to contact them during free communication sessions locally regarding their commitment to sexual health provision.

FSRH nominated for UK Sexual Health Award

15 Jan, 14 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

SH awards

 

 

 

The FSRH Quality Training Project has been nominated in the ‘Adult Sexual Health Service/Project of the Year’ category of this year’s Brook fpa awards. The shortlisted finalists were announced this week.

The Awards recognise outstanding people, projects, services, campaigns and media in sexual health.  Winners will be announced at a glittering awards dinner and ceremony in central London on Friday 14 March.

Other categories include: Sexual health professional of the year; Young person of the year; Young people’s sexual health service/project of the year; The Pamela Sheridan Sex and Relationships Education Award; Sexual health media campaign/storyline of the year; Rosemary Goodchild Award for excellence in sexual health journalism.

More details from Brook/fpa

Historic News for Nurse Training in SRH

26 Nov, 13 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

Members of the Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) have voted overwhelmingly to widen membership to include nurses, paving the way for the development of a new nationally recognised qualification for nurses working in sexual health. This happened last Thursday at an extraordinary general meeting before the Current Choices Conference in London, after which Dr Chris Wilkinson made a formal announcement it in his President’s opening address to the conference. This brought forth spontaneous applause and positive comments from Minister for Public Health, Jane Ellison MP, who said:

“This announcement is a groundbreaking moment for multi-disciplinary working in the health service. I am delighted to see the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare leading the way in opening up their membership to nurses, ensuring that doctors and nurses work together to set standards and improve patient care. I hope this will act as an example for all services.”

and Director of Nursing for Public Health England, Professor Viv Bennett, who added:

“Effective accessible sexual health services need highly skilled teams. It is fantastic that the Faculty is valuing the key roles of nurses in the multi-disciplinary team, providing the opportunity for nurses in sexual health to gain a nationally recognised qualification and through membership to the Faculty ensuring nurses play a national strategic role in developing sexual health services as well as providing high quality services to people locally”

The FSRH becomes one of the very few medical Colleges and Faculties to include nurses within its membership, reflecting the key role that nurses play in the delivery of sexual health care, and the organisation’s desire to promote and develop multi-disciplinary working in sexual health.

What this means in practice is that from January 2014 nurses will be able to become full members of the FSRH by following the same route as doctors and completing the Nurse Diploma. Within the new training structure (for doctors and nurses) there will be a new online knowledge assessment (eKA) which will test the theoretical knowledge gained from the e-SRH or elsewhere. Those who wish to go on to complete a diploma will (after passing the eKA) complete the Course of 5 workshops followed by the ACPs (assessments of clinical practice) as doctors currently do. All of these will be logged via an online e-portfolio. An additional change is that doctors and nurses will, in future, be able to undertake the LoCs (Letters of Competence) for either SDIs or IUTs without first having to complete the diploma – they will, however, have to pass the eKA first.

Further information will be posted on the FSRH website nearer the time of launch.

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