MPs are calling for a new national strategy for sexual health services in England.
A report from the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee, published on 2 June 2019, highlights unequal access to sexual health services across England and calls for joined-up commissioning between local authorities and the NHS to tackle the currently “fragmented” system.
The committee also says it wants to sexual health funding to be restored, following the “severe” cuts of up to 40% in some areas that resulted from the local authority public health budgets in recent years.
The ‘Sexual Health’ report, which followed the committee’s inquiry into sexual health services held over the current parliament, reported the “success” of pharmacy provision of emergency hormonal contraception and describes how it heard evidence that this service has even been extended in one area to include the provision of chlamydia testing and treatment, hepatitis B vaccination, and oral contraception.
Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said: “We need to develop a new, national strategy in order to tackle the very real threat of increased levels of poor sexual health and to support a workforce that delivers the best service possible, despite growing demands.”
While the report acknowledges that pharmacists are part of the sexual health workforce, it fails to address how the profession could be better used to deliver improved services.
In March 2019, a report published by Public Health England called on commissioners to recognise the value of pharmacy in improving sexual health services.
‘The Pharmacy Offer for Sexual Health, Reproductive Health and HIV’ report was designed to “raise awareness with commissioners” about the services community pharmacy can offer. It said pharmacists were “well placed” to provide sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services.