The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK (APPG) aims to raise awareness in Parliament of the needs of women seeking abortion and the importance of improving all aspects of the sexual health of women and men in the UK.
The APPG is chaired by Baroness Gould of Potternewton and supported by FPA, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.
Sexual and reproductive health in pregnancy, January 2017
In January 2017, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH) launched new guidance on Contraception After Pregnancy, to support healthcare professionals and inform women in their care to make planned choices about future pregnancies.
The APPG held a meeting on sexual and reproductive health throughout pregnancy care, in order to launch the guidance and discuss some of the issues that arise following birth, miscarriage and abortion.
Public Health England's Medical Expert Dr Sue Mann began by talking about pregnancy as an opportunity within the public health system. She spoke about the importance of improved health outcomes associated with contraception and pre-conception care, including reduced maternal and neonatal morbidity and better preparation ahead of pregnancy (including reduced smoking and higher folic acid uptake). She emphasised the importance of collaborative working between healthcare professionals and using the correct measures to determine the success of any interventions. Going forward, Public Health England are working with women to understand their views and ensure that best practice is implemented at a local level.
Co-Director of the FSRH Clinical Effectiveness Unit Dr Sharon Cameron then introduced the Faculty's new guidance. The FSRH hopes that this evidence-based guide will be adopted nationally and implemented to ensure higher standards and improved outcomes. She also mentioned that FPA have recently released an updated patient information leaflet in line with the clinical guidance and are working as part of their Public Health England-funded information programme to develop a digital toolkit to support patients and healthcare professionals.
The final speaker was Dr Elizabeth Foley, General Secretary of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV. She began her presentation by outlining the increasing awareness of the complications in pregnancy caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs). She spoke about successful policy changes, including the decision to make HIV testing in pregnancy opt-out rather than opt-in before speaking in detail about rising rates of neonatal herpes. She recommended rescreening of women at high risk of STIs later in pregnancy and the introduction of a national system of reporting of STIs as a cause of illness in both mothers and neonates.
The Chair of the meeting, Baroness Gould offered to convene a group to ensure that the Faculty guidance on Contraception After Pregnancy is fully implemented.
Closing the gap: Improving the sexual health outcomes of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, October 2016
There is a large gap in the sexual health outcomes of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities compared to the general population. In 2015, rates of chlamydia were 3 times higher and trichomoniasis rates 10 times higher in black communities and BAME women are often less likely to access reproductive health services.
In October, the APPG sought to investigate why these inequalities exists and what can be done to address them.
Bradford-based GP Dr Anne Connolly opened the meeting by explaining that multiple groups with very different needs fall under this single label ‘BAME’. She stressed the importance of not trying a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to sexual health. Referring to experience in Bradford, she spoke about changes to commissioning which have led to smaller family planning clinics being moved into larger, centralised services, which are often harder to access for vulnerable communities. Despite these challenges, Dr Connolly finished her speech by saying that there are opportunities for better commissioning, adding that it is important to remember that communities aren’t hard to reach – they are just seldom heard.
Chief Executive of NAZ, a London-based sexual health charity, Marion Wadibia described the breadth of issues that her organisation deals with on a daily basis. She spoke about the specific barriers that BAME people face and recommended a strategic, cross-departmental approach from Government to close the outcomes gap.
Priscilla Nkwenti, Chief Executive of the Black Health Agency (BHA), gave an overview of the BHA’s work in Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and the West Midlands with communities including Black African women living with HIV, South Asian women, and Eastern European Roma communities. She emphasised the importance of improving sex and relationships education and the role of community development in encouraging screening and uptake of contraceptive services.
The final speaker, genitourinary medicine consultant Dr Charlotte Cohen, spoke about the specific needs of London’s Latin American communities. She called on Government to support specialised voluntary sector agencies, which can enable essential peer support for vulnerable populations and develop robust referral pathways into mainstream care.
A question and answer session covered peer support, fragmentations in commissioning and the role of social media. The meeting’s Chair, Baroness Barker, concluded by emphasising the importance of patient involvement in service design.
Annual General Meeting (AGM), October 2016
The APPG held its AGM on Tuesday 18 October in the Houses of Parliament. Please see the 'Reports by the APPG' section below for a full copy of the minutes and income and expenditure statement.
Officers of the APPG
Officers of the APPG make decisions about the APPG’s meetings and topics. They are elected by the other members of the APPG at the Annual General Meeting.
Co-Chairs: Ann Clwyd MP (Labour), Baroness Gould of Potternewton (Labour), Diana Johnson MP (Labour)
Vice Chairs: Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative), Baroness Flather (Crossbench) and Baroness Tonge (Independent Liberal Democrat)
Treasurer: Baroness Blood (Labour)
The UK Parliament website holds a full list of the registered members of the APPG.
Reports by the APPG
The APPG produces reports on key sexual health issues. You can download some of these below.
For further information about the APPG contact Laura Russell on 020 7608 5258 or firstname.lastname@example.org