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World AIDS Day 2012 – News

30 Nov, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

“Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination” is the theme of World AIDS Day 2012 on 1 December. Life-saving antiretrovirals have reduced new HIV infections and deaths. The 2015 target of 15 million HIV-infected people on antiretroviral medicines worldwide looks more achievable now than ever before.

 

World AIDS Day – BMJ special promotion 

The BMJ Group is putting together a special promotional webpage for World AIDS Day on 1st December that will offer a week’s free access to all relevant content published by our full range of journals. Please click here for access

New resources for young people living with HIV 

To mark World AIDS day on the 1st of December, the Children and Young People HIV Network, based at leading children’s charity the National Children’s Bureau, is sending a message of support to young people with HIV by launching a range of materials to support them in managing life with the condition.

The ‘Your Life’ leaflets and the ‘Studying with HIV’ guidance and LifeLinks resources are all available from www.ncb.org.uk/hiv

More than Half of those with HIV in the UK are Overweight:  The Surprising Issues Facing Those Living with HIV

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) will once again be supporting World Aids Day on 1st December. Early data from the BDA’s DHIVA specialist group audit suggests that more than half of people living with HIV in the UK are overweight or obese, with only about one-in-nine being underweight.

In fact by far the most common issues facing HIV dietitians in the outpatient clinic these days are dyslipidaemia, hypertension, diabetes and osteoporosis, with over 75% of HIV patients Vitamin D deficient. Dealing with these issues is not as straightforward as it might seem, with HIV-specific barriers to lifestyle change emerging.

Members report common themes from their patients, including a fear that deliberate weight loss might lead to others guessing their HIV status (“why are you getting thin – you don’t have AIDS do you?”), and a feeling that being overweight is safer (“I remember how ill and thin I was before starting ARVs and I don’t want to go back there again”). from Alastair Duncan, Chairman of the BDA’s DHIVA (Dietitians in HIV/Aids) specialist group.

 

UNITAID welcomed the good news this World AIDS Day that the number of children newly infected with HIV continues to decline but urges the international community to step up efforts for those children already living with the disease. more from the website

    2012 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report

 

 

Sept 26th World Contraception Day

25 Sep, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

Your Future.

Your Choice.

Your Contraception.

 

WCD 2012 focuses on empowering young people to think ahead and build contraception into their plans, in order to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection (STI).

  • World Contraception Day (WCD) takes place on September 26 every year. This annual worldwide campaign centres around a vision for a world where every pregnancy is wanted
  • Every year, countries and regions around the world organize events to mark World Contraception Day and to demonstrate their commitment to raising awareness of contraception and improving education regarding reproductive and sexual health.
  •  Launched in 2007, WCD’s mission is to improve awareness of all contraceptive methods to enable young people around the world to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health
  • One of the most effective ways for young people to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or STI is to think ahead and consider the best contraceptive option for them – before having sex
  •  An important part of planning for the future is knowing where to access accurate and unbiased information about contraception.

The WCD website, www.Your-Life.com, contains up to date information on contraception to help young people and educational material with some useful quizzes under the ‘Media Center’ tab.

WCD is supported by a coalition of 11 international NGOs, scientific and medical societies with an interest in sexual health and is sponsored by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. The NGOs and societies involved in WCD are:

  • Asian Pacific Council on Contraception (APCOC)
  • Centro Latinamericano Salud y Mujer (CELSAM)
  • European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC)
  • German Foundation for World Population (DSW)
  • International Federation of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (FIGIJ)
  • International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
  • Marie Stopes International (MSI)
  • Population Services International
  • The Population Council
  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Women Deliver

The website/blog Impatient Optimists, which is supported  by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, documents some of the difficulties people and countries around the world face trying to implement these aims.

http://www.londonfamilyplanningsummit.co.uk/ On 11 July 2012 the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with UNFPA and other partners hosted a groundbreaking summit that will mobilize global policy, financing, commodity, and service delivery commitments to support the rights of an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to use contraceptive information, services and supplies, without coercion or discrimination, by 2020.

http://populationmatters.org/2012/ceo-blog/world-contraception-day-26-september-2012/ details the The Population Matters Annual General Meeting and Conference 2012 which will be held on Saturday 13th October 2012 in central London. The meeting is open to members, their guests and other interested parties on request. Advance registration is required.

Fertility Issues

6 Aug, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

IVF twins: buy one get one free? (Mittal)  (published online 18 July)

The aim of IVF treatment should be to achieve a full-term singleton birth. This article explores the tensions that exist between IVF provision and the elective single embryo transfer (eSET) policy. The authors present a balanced contemporary review describing why twin pregnancies are undesirable yet may be a risk couples are willing to take. They go on to discuss the issues faced when considering strategies to reduce twin pregnancies and the tensions that exist with the eSET policy. Blanket eSET implementation appears not be a simple answer to avoid twin pregnancies. from Scott Wilkes, Associate Editor

1 in 7 couples in the UK have infertility problems

Most people growing up assume that, if and when they want children, they will be able to have them. They don’t expect to have problems with fertility, and assume that, if they do the wonders of modern fertility treatments, such as IVF and ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) will be able to solve them. However, in contrast to this, background figures point to 1 in 7 couples in the UK having fertility problems. This is according to new research published by the Health Experiences Research Group at the University of Oxford and available from healthtalkonline. The research team was founded by Ann McPherson (who sadly died in May 2011) and headed by Sue Ziebland and Louise Locock.

ESHRE 2012 Reports highlight fertility issues

UK still trails behind Europe in number of IVF cycles – yet it all started here.

As the number of babies worldwide born thanks to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) – breaks the 5 million barrier for the first time, figures show that the UK is still lagging behind many of its European neighbours in numbers of treatment cycles per year.  A report presented at ESHRE 2012 shows that the UK carries out 879 cycles/million inhabitants per year, which is significantly lower than many other countries including Denmark (2,726 cycles/million), Belgium (2,562 cycles/million) and Slovenia (1,840 cycles/million).

The pioneering treatment, which hit the headlines worldwide back in 1978 with the birth of Louise Brown in Oldham, has dramatically reduced the devastating burden of infertility, benefitting millions of couples both in the UK and worldwide.

However, for thousands of couples here, the dream of having a child of their own remains elusive: many are denied IVF because their Primary Care Trust or Health Board is reluctant to fund sufficient treatment. Around three quarters of all PCTs in England still don’t offer the 3 full cycles of IVF as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Leading national infertility charity supports new research on Single Embryo Transplant (SET)

Leading patient charity, Infertility Network UK (IN UK), has backed new research presented at the annual meeting of ESHRE, which shows that a policy of single embryo transfer reduces the risk of perinatal death in infants born after IVF and ICSI.

The report is based on analysis of more than 50,000 births recorded in the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Technology Database from 2004-2008, where the introduction of  SET seems to have reduced overall perinatal mortality for IVF and ICSI babies.

Said Clare Lewis-Jones, Chief Executive of IN UK and Chair of Fertility Europe: “We welcome a move towards SET, and this report gives the medical profession more evidence to encourage patients to accept SET, which reduces the risks of multiple births to both mother and babies and gives the best possible outcome – one healthy baby.

“However, it must go hand in hand with full implementation of the NICE clinical guidelines which recommend up to three full cycles of treatment, including any frozen embryo transfers (FET). Other European countries which routinely offer five and six cycles of treatment have successfully implemented SET, and it is high time that patients in the UK are offered access to the level of treatment recommended by NICE nearly eight years ago!

“Many PCTs here still fall short of the recommendations and it is totally unacceptable and unethical for some PCTs to offer only one cycle of treatment and not to include FET for patients.”

APPG Inquiry reveals shocking findings ahead of World Summit

11 Jul, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

Yesterday saw the release of the report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on SRH in the UK following an investigation into restrictions to access of contraceptive services in the UK. Their report: ‘ Healthy Women Healthy Lives’ shows evidence of women being actively restricted from services and methods, with the over 25s bearing the brunt.

The Inquiry also expressed grave concerns about the fragmentation of NHS contraceptive services which, they concluded, are lacking in the effective strategic forward planning needed for when local authorities take ownership in 2013. “Many of the restrictions we found during the Inquiry shocked us,” said Baroness Gould of Potternewton, Chair of the APPG.

Evidence was submitted from service users, sexual health clinicians, sexual health charities, a GP and the Shadow Public Health Minister. Following its Inquiry, the APPG has asked the Government to consider its report and publish a response.

In gathering evidence, the Inquiry uncovered restrictions imposed by primary care trusts on contraceptive services. These include:

  • Stopping the over 25s from using community contraception clinics.
  • Making referrals for long-acting reversible methods of contraception (LARCs) ‘GP only’ (so women cannot self-refer as is currently common practice).
  • Running contraceptive services on a residents-only basis.
  • Only allowing the over 25s to get oral contraception (i.e. the pill) from a GP (not a clinic).

Several areas such as Harringey, Walthamstow, Bristol and Derbyshire were singled out in the report for placing restrictions on services.

Full report at fpa.org

The report’s findings should be particularly embarrassing for the UK in light of efforts to address the appalling situation worldwide for women as

Today sees the 2012 Global summit on Family Planning

organised by the UK Govenment Dept for International Development with the Gates Foundation the aim of this groundbreaking effort is to make affordable, lifesaving contraceptives, information, services, and supplies available to an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.

The summit’s vision is to ensure women in developing countries can have the same freedom to access family planning services – without coercion, discrimination and violence – as women in the developed world.

Governments, civil society and communities will be called on to tackle the many barriers which prevent women and girls using family planning, such as a lack of contraceptives, lack of money and lack of support from their husbands.  More

 

SRH Reports from around the globe

25 May, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion

The ICMA have launched a new international campaign for women’s right to safe abortion. Individuals and organisations are invited to join the campaign in advance of 28 May, the International Day of Action for Women’s Health. To read more and to register support go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CHH62F5

UNFPA announces ‘Maternal Deaths Halved in 20 Years’.

The number of women dying of pregnancy and childbirth related complications has almost halved in 20 years, according to new estimates released by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank.

US regulators vote for approval of PrEP by large majority.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have taken a decisive step towards approving the use of the combination pill Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) as a prevention method for HIV-negative people. Read more at NAMaidsmap. GlobalData.com reported on 11th May – In a controversial decision on May 10, the FDA antiviral drugs advisory committee backed Gilead Sciences’ drug Truvada to prevent the transmission of HIV. The committee voted in favour of prophylactic Truvada in three populations: HIV-uninfected men who have sex with men (19-3), in HIV-uninfected partners in relationships with infected partners (19-2), and for individuals at risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity (12-8).  Although awareness of HIV and AIDs has significantly increased throughout recent decades, the disease remains a global epidemic requiring better preventative strategies. Yet the possibility that on June 15 the FDA will approve Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has provoked strong and divided opinions from infectious disease experts and activists. Read more at globaldata.com

Victories for Center for Reproductive Rights

Victory for Honduran Women

On May 17, 2012, the Center for Reproductive Rights held a demonstration on the steps of the Honduran Congress. Their mission: to stop the government from passing a bill that would have imprisoned women for using emergency contraception. Alejandra Cárdenas, Legal Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean, had planned to personally hand-deliver 730,000 petitions to the Congress signed by activists in more than 80 countries in protest. In a surprise move, Juan Orlando Hernández, president of the Congress, declined to take the petitions—but not because he didn’t hear the massive outcry. In fact, Hernández said he no longer planned to bring the bill up for debate—and even proclaimed support for women’s self-determination. Read more:

Two Groundbreaking Victories in Oklahoma:

Medication Abortion Protected

Judge Donald Worthington permanently blocked a state ban on medical abortion when he ruled that the law was “so completely at odds” with standard medical practice that it “can serve no purpose other than to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to punish and discriminate against those women who do. Read more:

and Oklahoma Personhood defeated

With a unanimous decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Center for Reproductive Rights has won its legal challenge to strike down a ballot initiative that would have given every fertilized egg the full legal rights of a person. It is not acceptable, they ruled, to propose amendments to the state constitution that are ‘repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.’” If passed, the amendment not only would have outlawed abortion in all cases—including in cases of rape or incest, fetal anomalies, or risk to a woman’s life—but also would have banned many forms of birth control and seriously threatened fertility treatments such as IVF. Read more:

Distress of child war and sex abuse victims halved by new trauma intervention

A new psychological intervention has been shown to more than halve the trauma experienced by child victims of war, rape and sexual abuse. Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast pioneered the intervention in conjunction with the international NGO, World Vision as part of a wider programme to treat psychological distress in child victims of war and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Read more:

Faculty Initiatives & Fitness to Practice

24 May, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

Crucial Issues for Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Local Health & Wellbeing Strategies

Joint Guidance has been published by FSRH, BASHH, fpa, Brook, BHIVA, MedFASH, NAT, THT & NHIVNA to guide and assist Local Authorities who are preparing to commission sexual & reproductive health & HIV services when local government takes up its new public health responsibilities in April 2013.  In the coming months every Local Authority will need to:
– complete a Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA)
– establish a Health & Wellbeing Strategy & investment plan
– prepare to commission public health services.

FSRH response to APPG inquiry

The Faculty has published its response to the APPG on SRH inquiry into restriction on access to contraceptive services as outlined in the blog of 20th April.

Workforce Census 2012

Service representatives are directed to the Faculty Workforce Census for 2012. Forms are available online via the FSRH website and need to be completed by 30th June 2012.

GMC Fitness to Practise reforms

From 11 June 2012 the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) will be the new impartial adjudication service for the medical profession in the UK. The MPTS will hear all fitness to practise cases about doctors and makes decisions on what action is needed to protect patients, if any. The MPTS is part of the GMC, but it is operationally separate from the GMC’s work in investigating complaints about doctors and presenting cases at hearings. Complete guide to the MPTS available from FSRH website.

Melinda Gates’ New Crusade & Confirmation that IUD is most effective for EC

11 May, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

Melinda Gates’ New Crusade: Investing Billions in Women’s Health

Melinda Gates this week pledged billions of dollars to be spent on improving access to contraception. In her many travels she repeatedly met women who were unable to gain access to something which most of the rest of the world take for granted. In an interview with Newsweek she recounted stories from the women many of whom were unable, for example, to get repeat injections of Depo Provera. In July she is teaming up with the British government to cosponsor a summit of world leaders in London, to start raising the $4 billion the Foundation says it will cost to get 120 million more women access to contraceptives by 2020. And in a move that could be hugely significant for American women, the Foundation is pouring money into the long-neglected field of contraceptive research, seeking entirely new methods of birth control. Ultimately Gates hopes to galvanize a global movement. “When I started to realize that that needed to get done in family planning, I finally said, OK, I’m the person that’s going to do that,” she says. More from the Gates Foundation website.

Paper confirms EC IUD failure rate less than 1 per 1000

Authors of the first ever systematic review of all available data from the last 35 years argue that IUDs should be routinely offered and available to those requesting emergency contraception. They found that the failure rate was less than 1 per 1000 when they analysed data from 42 studies involving 7034 women using 8 different IUDs. They also found that 85% clinicians in one study never offered this as an option. In a press release this week one of the authors, Professor James Trussell, said:

“This is an extremely difficult problem to deal with, especially as in many countries women can just go to their local pharmacy to obtain the ‘morning after pill’, but virtually no women know to ask for an IUD and many family planning clinics and surgeries do not offer same-day insertion. Offering same-day insertion would remove a huge barrier to the greater use of IUDs.”

Online First – Postnatal contraceptive choices in HIV-positive women [Duncan et al.]

Gillian Robinson (Associate Editor) writes:

“This paper describes an exciting example of how an integrated contraception and sexual health service can work to provide holistic care for women. This clinic provides women living with HIV with prenatal, antenatal and postnatal care in a community setting. The paper is a retrospective case note review. Uptake of postnatal contraception was high yet more than 20% of women were not seen postnatally. The authors suggest that the reasons for this are explored to ensure all women with HIV receive contraception in the early postnatal period to prevent unwanted pregnancy.”

NAT calls for new health bodies to tackle late diagnosis of HIV

“Halve It”, a broad coalition of leading experts and advocates in HIV and AIDS, welcomes the renewed call by the National AIDs Trust (NAT) for the urgent prioritisation of HIV testing in its new ‘HIV testing action plan’ which provides vital strategic guidance to health bodies on tackling the serious issue of late HIV diagnosis in the UK.

FDA Approves first pill for Heavy Menstrual Bleeding (HMB)

Natazia is a combination oral contraceptive (COC) consisting of estradiol valerate and estradiol valerate/dienogest. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Natazia in May 2010 to prevent pregnancy. On March 14, 2012, the FDA also approved Natazia to treat heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB), making it the first and only OC indicated for this purpose. One interesting thing is that until now we have known Natazia, in the UK, as Qlaira and until now it has not been widely used. More details at Medscape.

UK women misdiagnosing genital infections

To mark National BV Day on 18th April a study found that one in four British women has misdiagnosed themselves on the internet. Researchers found Dr Google is now the first port of call for women with genuine health concerns who are almost twice as likely to check online before consulting a doctor or even talking to Mum. But searching their symptoms online and self-medicating has led a tenth of the country’s women to endure unpleasant side effects as a result of their misdiagnosis.

 

News items from April

4 May, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

Better access to birth control would reduce stress on global resources

as reported by Nigel Hawkes in the BMJ. The rich should consume less and the poor should procreate less, says the Royal Society in a new report. The report was produced by a working party chaired by John Sulston, who headed the UK part of the Human Genome Project, and took 21 months to research and write.

Morning after pill courier service launched

A new service allows women (living in London) to order emergency contraception on the internet, so it arrives within two hours, rather than having to see their GP to obtain the drugs. For £20, women can order the drug by filling out an online form through the internet medical practice DrEd.com. The forms, which ask users to confirm they are aged over 18, will be assessed by doctors before pills are dispatched by courier. Currently they only offer Levonelle®, which can also be purchased in advance and by buying 2 packets for £24.00 at a saving of 37%.

Pharmacists should provide oral contraceptive services, says NHS report

As reported by Jacqui Wise in the BMJ:
“A report from NHS South East London has recommended that trained community pharmacists provide oral contraceptive consultation services after a successful pilot scheme to widen access to contraception.  The part of the report that has received the most media coverage is a recommendation to “consider providing the service to women under 16 years where appropriate.” The report said that this may help reduce numbers of teenage pregnancies.”

Brook and fpa respond to proposal to introduce contraceptive pill in pharmacies

Responding to the proposal that the contraceptive pill should be available from pharmacies without a prescription to young people, including those under 16, the chief executives of Brook and FPA, Simon Blake and Julie Bentley said: “The majority of young people under 16 are not having sex, however we must ensure that those who are can access support and services when they need to. “Although Brook and FPA welcome proposals which could increase young people’s access to sexual health services and information, all the necessary safeguards must be in place to ensure young people can get the information and support they need. “This includes pharmacists having the appropriate clinical knowledge about contraception, being able to communicate effectively with young people, having the right type of environment including a confidential space, as well as the appropriate support and referral networks.”

Egg-Sharing in Fertility Treatment

Evaluating egg-sharing: new findings on old debates – as reported in BioNews
Egg-sharing refers to a scheme where a woman undergoing fertility treatment donates a portion of her eggs to an anonymously matched recipient in exchange for a reduction in treatment costs. As a very specific form of egg donation, egg-sharing has generated heated debate since its introduction in the UK in 1998. While proponents argue it provides a win-win solution, allowing two women to help each other conceive, critics talk of the potential ethical and psychological consequences. Until recently, there has been very little empirical data to inform these discussions. However, new research conducted by Gurtin and Golombok at the University of Cambridge Centre for Family Research, in collaboration with the London Women’s Clinic, hopes to redress this balance.

Men’s health expert presents to Members of European Parliament

A leading men’s health expert presented a report detailing the health challenges facing men across Europe MEPs and key European decision-makers at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Professor Alan White, Director of the Centre for Men’s Health at Leeds Metropolitan University was commissioned by the European Commission to produce a report which gives the first complete picture of the breadth of issues affecting men’s health across Europe.  Professor White brought together 36 leading researchers from 34 countries across Europe to undertake the research which highlights the state of men’s health in Europe as a serious public health concern. more info

Faculty Consultations

The CEU Guideline on “Barrier Methods-Contraception and STI prevention” is for consultation until 21st May. see FSRH website:

BASHH Mentoring Group is currently seeking new members:

BASHH would like new representatives to support coordination of mentors and mentees within North West regions and Wales. The successful candidates would also be involved in the activities that the Mentoring Group is currently taking forward nationally. Closing date for applications: 16th May 2012.  see BASHH website for more details

And finally – we hear reports that Virgin Care have obtained ‘preferred bidder’ status in the tender to run West Sussex sexual health services .

NHS flouts national guidance on contraception as cuts bite:

25 Apr, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

new audit reveals shocking truth as 3.2m women face restrictions in access to contraceptives or services

A new audit of the commissioning of contraceptive and abortion services in England has revealed a stark picture of inequality in women’s healthcare, with a third of women of reproductive age unable to choose from the full range of contraceptives or services in their local area.

The audit was carried out by the Advisory Group on Contraception – a coalition of leading experts and advocacy groups interested in sexual and reproductive health – through Freedom of Information requests made to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). The report of the audit findings, Sex, lives, and commissioning: An audit of the commissioning of contraceptive and abortion services in England demonstrates that:

As many as 3.2 million women of reproductive age (15-44) are living in areas where fully comprehensive contraceptive services, through community and/or primary care services, are not provided

  • Those PCTs restricting access to contraceptives or contraceptive services had a higher abortion rate than the national average
  • Over a quarter (28%) of PCTs responding to the audit did not have a strategy in place or under development to address unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion or repeat abortion

The audit also uncovered evidence of PCTs introducing access restrictions based on cost rather than choice or quality:

  • NHS North Lancashire confirmed one method of contraception was not prescribed “due to lack of funding/training for staff”
  • NHS Brighton and Hove confirmed that its “GP-led health centre will only prescribe Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) methods to residents of Brighton and Hove.  Non-residents attending with a filled prescription for LARC will be provided with a fitting”
  • NHS Haringey Teaching said that from the 1 October 2011 “women aged over 25 do not receive contraception pills from the local CaSH [Contraception and Sexual Health] Service; they receive this service from their GP”
  • NHS Barnet stated that “In 2010 the PCT introduced a restriction on over 25’s accessing integrated services for generic contraceptive advice… Only patients within this age group who have complex needs can be seen by an integrated service”

Dr Connie Smith, Consultant in Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, said:

“Contraception is a very personal issue.  What is right for one woman may not be right for another.  That is why the national NICE guidelines on contraception are built around the importance of choice. 

 “PCTs that are restricting choice are getting worse outcomes.  As a result of flouting national guidance, women are paying a big personal cost and the NHS is bearing a huge financial cost.  Unintended pregnancy costs the NHS more than £755 million every year.  For every £1 spent on contraception the NHS saves £12.50, so restricting access and choice is a complete false economy, harming women and the NHS.  Those PCTs with restrictions in place need to have an urgent rethink.”

Dr Anne Connolly, a GP with a special interest in sexual health, added:

“As a GP I know how important it is to get contraception right.  We must take a personal approach to meeting women’s needs and operating a blanket ban on some services or contraceptives goes completely against this. 

 “It is very concerning that so many PCTs have no strategy in place to address unintended pregnancy and that some are introducing restrictions on contraceptives or services.  The Department of Health should urgently publish a sexual health strategy showing how the needs of women of all ages can be met, alongside clear standards about the quality of service women have a right to expect.”

The AGC has made a series of recommendations for how sexual health and contraceptive services could be more effectively planned, commissioned and delivered.  These include:

  • The Department of Health should publish its planned sexual health policy document without further delay and ensure that it sets out clearly the expectation for commissioners to commission comprehensive, open access services that reflect a life-course approach for people of all ages
  • NICE should prioritise the development of the quality standard on contraceptive services
  • Contraceptive services must be commissioned based on the principles of the NHS Constitution. Commissioners should remove any policies or contracts in place which limit an individual’s access to contraceptive services based on reasons of age or place of residence
  • Commissioners should ensure that up-to-date strategies are in place to reduce unintended pregnancy, and the need for abortion and repeat abortions, and these strategies should focus on addressing the needs of women of all ages

All Party Parliamentary Group launches enquiry into restrictions in access to contraceptive services.

20 Apr, 12 | by shellraine, e-Media Editor

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK (APPGSRH) has launched an inquiry and call for evidence into restrictions in access to contraceptive services.

Examples have already been seen of commissioners cutting prescribing budgets for contraceptive methods to meet targets for savings, with consequences for choice and public health outcomes. In addition the Public Health Minister, Anne Milton MP, in a response to a parliamentary question tabled on contraceptive services, has recently confirmed that the Department of Health has received “representations from clinicians and voluntary sector organisations on the current commissioning of contraception by primary care trusts (PCTs) and access to certain types of contraception by certain age groups”.

On Monday 6 February, the APPGSRH held a meeting to discuss possible restrictions in access to sexual health services to residents-only and to people under 25 years old.  During the meeting members of the Advisory Group on Contraception (AGC) presented the initial findings from a Freedom of Information audit which had found variations in access to contraceptive services and methods.

The APPGSRH expressed concerns at the findings from the audit, in particular:

  • Evidence of commissioners restricting access to contraceptive services on the basis of age or place of residence
  • The impact that the drive for efficiency savings is having on women’s choice of the full range of contraceptive methods
  • Some methods of contraception only being made available with a GP referral
  • The impact of changes to the commissioning structures on the continuity and quality of contraceptive care

The APPGSRH is launching this inquiry in the belief that its work can contribute to the debate about how high quality contraceptive services can be delivered in the context of the healthcare reforms; and how access to the full range of contraceptive services and methods can be improved for women of all ages.

The inquiry will bring together further evidence and understanding to the current provision of contraceptive services across the country. It will also look at uncovering examples of good practice in relation to the availability of contraceptive services which can be shared amongst new and emerging commissioners of services.  We are therefore encouraging stakeholders – including commissioners, healthcare professionals and service user representatives – to submit written evidence which will help feed into the inquiry’s discussions.

Call for written evidence

The deadline for written evidence is 5pm on Friday 18 May and submissions should be sent to appg@fpa.org.uk. Submissions should be no more than 2,500 words. For more information click here.


 

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