The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have launched a new report, endorsed by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, which shines a light on the ‘perfect storm of factors [that] is reversing previous positive advances made in promoting sexual and reproductive health.’
The report – Sexual and Reproductive Health: Time to Act (PDF) – covers a range of different issues that are contributing to this problem. They include a fragmented system of commissioning, a lack of training for healthcare professionals, and cuts to funding and services. The report also offers a wide range of recommendations to the government, which FPA supports.
The report adds to building evidence that a range of vital sexual and reproductive health services are increasingly under strain. FPA’s own Unprotected Nation report shows the long-term cost of cuts to services, and a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health outlined the concerning impact of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
The King’s Fund also recently found that sexual health clinics are increasingly under strain, at a time when there are concerns over rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, while the Advisory Group on Contraception has found that one in three councils has cut, or is considering cutting, the number of GP practices able to provide long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods, such as the contraceptive implant or intrauterine devices (IUDs, also known as coils).
FPA’s Policy and Public Affairs Manager Laura Russell said:
“GPs are incredibly important in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services.
"This report plays a vital role in highlighting GPs’ concerns, including the struggle to maintain funding and reach those people who find it hard to navigate an increasingly complicated sexual and reproductive healthcare system.
“The RCGP not only builds on the substantial evidence that there needs to be real investment and change within the system, but also offers useful recommendations, which would improve commissioning, training and data collection.
"If implemented, these recommendations would make a real difference to improving sexual health and reversing some of the concerning trends that have been emerging. For example, syphilis and gonorrhoea rates rose by 76% and 53% respectively between 2012 and 2015, and there is increasing concern over the threat of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea.
“It’s time that the Department of Health properly reviewed the sexual and reproductive healthcare system, taking into account the views of expert organisations. We could not agree more with the RCGP – it’s time to act.”