Contraceptive services 'at a crossroads' due to frustrating cuts, says RCGP

Publication date: 12 September 2018

Responding to a BBC investigation into cuts to sexual and reproductive health services, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "It's extremely concerning to hear of such large-scale cuts, or plans to cut, contraceptive services, across England – actions that will potentially affect millions of women. It seems bizarre when there is strong evidence that investing in good contraception services is one of the most cost-effective healthcare interventions available.

"It's also incredibly frustrating, because we've actually had years of improvement in the quality of sexual and reproductive healthcare in the UK; we've seen teenage pregnancy rates halved; we've seen take up of long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) increasing.

"But the most recent data shows prescriptions for LARCs – reliable, cost-effective contraception – decreasing. We're at a crossroads, whereby all the progress we've made is under serious threat, and we fear it will be some of our most vulnerable patients who are affected most.

"The complex and fragmented way sexual and reproductive health services in the community are now commissioned is something the College has called out in our recent 'Time to Act' report. Funding for one service might come from NHS England, funding for another from the Local Authority, and yet funding for another from the local Clinical Commissioning Group – it's so confusing to navigate for GPs and our teams, never mind patients.

"We're hearing of GP practices that have been running LARC-fitting clinics, but not being adequately funded to do so. That simply isn't sustainable when you think of the intense resource and workforce pressures facing general practice at the moment. There is also a lack of funding for the appropriate training for staff to fit LARCs safely - it's patchy across the country.

"So much progress had been made in this area in recent years and the service is too important to be allowed to fall into decline. It is vital that this decimation of services is stopped, and the trend immediately reversed."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633/7410
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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