All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK

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.

Latest news

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.

Baroness Gould said her main concern was the whole accountability structure. Co-ordination between Public Health England, NHS England and local government is needed. She stressed that locally, coordination is better with Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs). However, commissioning services are heavily fragmented, which affects patient care. There is also the issue of funding, with public health funding being cut by seven per cent which will affect sexual health services. The floor of the APPG agreed that accountability was a serious concern. Dr Jan Clarke, President of BASHH, agreed with Baroness Gould’s concerns, stating “there is a confusing commissioning environment where bureaucracy is likely to be duplicated.”

Baroness Gould also identified issues around monitoring and evaluating data. She highlighted how data is fundamental in terms of working out what is needed but complexities arise with how it is collected. The need for transparency is critical as it allows commissioners to be able to work effectively and allows the government to allocate appropriately. Jackie Routledge, Lancashire County Council, stressed that data is not patient-linked and that difficulties arise for commissioners in Primary Care because of this. Dr Jan Clarke added that if there is no data then it is impossible to set standards.

Baroness Gould raised concerns around fragmentation. She stressed that certain companies are not prepared to take on emergency contraception with the rest of sexual health services. What is needed and not currently possible, is an analysis of what has happened due to services being commissioned to private companies. She also said that training is the key to an effective workforce. Dr Kathy French, Independent Sexual Health Adviser, also identified how lack of investment has a knock-on effect for universities providing training. Baroness Gould said that Health Education England pointed out that sexual health is not a priority in terms of spending.

Finally, Baroness Gould stated that the system of open access needs to be maintained. Some local governments do not believe open access services are necessary.

Read more about the inquiry findings >>

Educating healthcare professionals in sexual and reproductive health, March 2015

This session:

  • considered how the findings of Professor Greenaway’s report, Shape of Training, may impact on the future of medical specialist training
  • discussed emerging best practice initiatives that offer new models of training for primary care staff
  • explored the healthcare skills and training required to deliver new integrated sexual health services.

Dr Kate Armitage, Clinical Lead, Introductory Certificate in Sexual Health, Royal College of GPs, discussed her work and how best to engage primary care staff in sexual health training. She stressed an uncertainty on the future of many services and explained a reluctance of GPs to send nurses on courses due to financial and time constraints and sexual health care not being prioritised. She also talked about the growing importance of e-learning.

Dr Andrew Collier and Dr Kitty Mohan, co-Chairs, Junior Doctor’s Committee, British Medical Association, discussed the implications of the Greenaway Review and highlighted the need for more doctors with more generic skills to treat people who may present with more than one condition. They explained that there was little discussion about sexual and reproductive health as a speciality and there are inconsistencies across the undergraduate medicine degree.

Dr David Evans, National Teaching Fellow and Senior Lecturer, Sexual Health, University of Greenwich identified problems of confidence in discussing sexual health, highlighting difficulties with finding and choosing sexual and reproductive health courses. He explained the findings of the Willis Report which praised Health Education England’s role and stressed the necessity for extra training for nurses which would allow them to thrive in sexual health services.

Accountability inquiry into standards in sexual and reproductive health: interim findings, January 2015

Panel members from the Accountability Inquiry into Standards in Sexual and Reproductive Health presented their interim findings.

34 organisations and 22 oral witnesses contributed to the Inquiry, with the final report expected to be published in July.

Baroness Tongue (Vice Chair, APPG Sexual and Reproductive Health UK) said that since responsibility for sexual health was transferred to local authorities there have been problems with commissioning, training and clinics. Also, HIV advice, diagnosis and treatment are provided separately which confuses patients and puts an extra financial burden on health services.

Ruth Lowbury (Chief Executive, MEDFASH) said that aspects of the system have become less clear. There are concerns about whether local authorities have the necessary experience and understanding of the complexities of sexual health commissioning and whether they could be effectively held to account. However, she said that local councils are better placed to link relevant organisations together and are better at procurement. Fragmentation in commissioning also has an impact on service provision; STI screening, contraception and HIV services should be commissioned together.

Alison Hadley (Director, Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange) said the Framework had a clear ambition on equality but no plan on how to achieve it. There is also no clear strategy to deliver nationwide sex and relationships education (SRE). Although the Framework prioritises prevention for young people there is an emphasis achieving this through services rather than education.

Sir Nick Partridge (Vice Chair, Sexual Health Forum) said the Framework’s was inadequate on HIV, not tackling the full spectrum of prevention, treatment, diagnosis, stigma, care and support. There are no specific goals to assess progress and hold relevant bodies to account. Despite challenges, clinical services are still delivering high levels of care but this is under threat. There is a lack of clarity on who has responsibility or budget to commission services which span care, treatment and prevention.

Dr Kathy French (Independent Nurse Adviser) said that access to training is a severe problem with the commissioning process not clear. Also, if a provider fears its services will be put out to tender within the next year, it may not invest in training. Many universities are seeing a drop in students undergoing sexual health education and training at postgraduate level.

Read the minutes from the meeting (PDF)

Accountability Inquiry: Minutes from oral evidence sessions released, December 2014

Minutes from the oral evidence sessions of the APPG Accountability Inquiry into Standards in Sexual and Reproductuve Health have been released. They are available from the Accountability Inquiry page.

Launch of Accountability Inquiry into Standards in Sexual and Reproductive Health, August 2014

The APPG has launched an accountability inquiry into the degree to which standards in sexual and reproductive health care are being met, with a particular focus on how the system can be held to account where the ambitions outlined in the Government’s Sexual Health Improvement Framework in England are not being achieved.

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.

Healthy Women. Healthy Lives?(2012) full report (PDF, opens in new window)

Healthy Women. Healthy Lives? (2012) executive summary (PDF, opens in new window)

See FPA press release about Healthy Women, Healthy Lives.

Joint working on sexual health amongst PCTs (2008)

Delivery of sexual health services in general practice (2007)

Why women need late abortion (2006)

Further information

For further information about the APPG contact FPA's press team on 020 7608 5265 or press@fpa.org.uk