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.
The future for abortion: 50 years from the Act, April 2016
As campaigners prepare to mark the 50 year anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act, the APPG held an event to discuss how legislation could be improved so that all patients can receive the highest possible standard of care.
Speakers representing abortion care providers, clinicians and the legal profession discussed the limitations of the current law.
Ann Furedi, chief executive of bpas, spoke about the problems the Act inadvertently creates for providers, such as the stipulation that abortions have to be provided on licenced premises, which hinders access.
Dr Kate Guthrie, consultant gynaecologist, also spoke about the separation of abortion care from the NHS, which results in junior doctors missing out on training opportunities and causes problems for women with additional medical complexities.
Dr Sheelagh McGuinness of Bristol Law School provided an academic legal perspective, presenting research into the fact that the threat of criminalisation acts as a disincentive to clinicians who may otherwise have been interested in reproductive care. She also spoke about the problems with the existing legal framework, which creates barriers to access for patients.
A question and answer session covered a range of topics, from the need to see abortion as a healthcare issue to the problems caused by protestors outside clinics. Co-Chairs Diana Johnson MP and Baroness Gould concluded the meeting by suggesting further investigation and discussion as to how the situation can be improved.
Local commissioning and sexual health, March 2016
Following on from the APPG's work in the lead up to the publication of the Breaking Down the Barriers report, a meeting was held to discuss how to achieve seamless pathways for patients using sexual and reproductive health services, in light of significant public health spending cuts.
The first speaker, Gloucestershire County Council commissioner Karen Pitney, spoke about the difficult choices local authorities had to make following the chancellor’s decision in June 2015 to cut local authority public health budgets by 6.2% in-year. She told the APPG that many of her local authority colleagues have been forced to terminate contracts on the basis of expediency, rather than taking carefully planned decisions on the basis of the value of each service.
Bradford-based GP Dr Anne Connolly focused on the disproportionate impact that cuts were having on disadvantaged communities and the increasing strain placed on primary care, as community clinics close or shorten opening hours.
NHS England Medical Director for North Central and East London Dr Henrietta Hughes praised the potential of new models of care and the importance of looking to new team members (including pharmacists) who are able to deliver sexual and reproductive health services. She also spoke about the need to develop accessible, accurate digital information, and used the FPA website as a good example.
The floor was opened to questions, which covered issues relating to local authority tendering processes, fractures in commissioning and the importance of sex and relationships education.
Chair, Baroness Gould, closed the meeting by summing up concerns about threats to universal, open access services, a situation that the APPG will continue to monitor.
Sexuality and disability, December 2015
This meeting of the APPG aimed to examine the sort of policy that needs to be implemented to support the sexual rights of people with disabilities.
Miguel Tudela de la Fuente (Learning Disabilities Project Manager at FPA) spoke about his experiences working in the City of Westminster, training adults and young people with learning disabilities to understand sexual health issues. He called for statutory sex education, making the case that it is important for the safeguarding of vulnerable young people. He also spoke about the need for clear sexuality policies to be put in place by organisations including schools and local authorities.
Kate Reynolds, author of a number of books on sexuality and autism, talked about her work and her experience as the parent-carer of a child with severe autism. She spoke about the need for consistent messages for disabled young people from parents and schools, and recommended better communication between all parties providing sex and relationships education (SRE).
The next speaker, Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq, spoke about the work that the charity Deafax does providing resources for effective sex education for young deaf people. She spoke of the barriers to accessing services, including the lack of sign language interpreters and British Sign Language (BSL) resources.
Finally, writer and activist Penny Pepper spoke about the stigma and discrimination faced by people with disabilities, including damaging assumptions that disabled people are not physically able to have sex. She argued that there is a need for better representation of people with disabilities across public life and the media, to challenge prejudice.
Questions from the floor covered a broad range of topics, including the role of regulators such as the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted in ensuring services are appropriate for all people, the need for specialised services, the work that needs to be done to support LGB and T people with disabilities and whether the right to sexual expression should be included in social care assessments.
Launch of Accountability Inquiry into Standards in Sexual and Reproductive Health, July 2015
This special meeting launched the APPG’s latest inquiry, Breaking Down the Barriers: The Need for Accountability and Integration in Sexual, Reproductive Health and HIV Services in England.
Baroness Gould, Chair of the APPG presented a summary of the report’s findings and recommendations and invited reactions from audience members. The Annual General meeting, with elections for the APPG Officers, also took place.
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.
Chair: Baroness Gould of Potternewton (Labour)
Vice Chairs: Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative), Baroness Flather (Crossbench), Baroness Tonge (Liberal Democrat) and Emily Thornberry MP (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