An Inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health (APPG SRH), a group of cross-party MPs and Peers, has found that women in England are facing difficulty in accessing contraception.
The Inquiry found that:
13% cuts to the contraceptive budget between 2015 and 2018 have likely obstructed and reduced access to services, resulting in long waiting times for women, leaving them at risk of unplanned pregnancies. Underfunding of Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs – intrauterine contraception and implants) in primary care has led to a reduction in GPs offering women the most effective methods to prevent pregnancy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this provision gap, with a marked reduction in services offering contraception. As the NHS restores after lockdown, there are concerns that the cost of reinstating LARC services will prove a deterrent for many GP surgeries, leaving many women at risk of unplanned pregnancy.
The Parliamentarians call on the Department of Health and Social Care to consider introducing an integrated commissioning model for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, with one body maintaining oversight and holding accountability for commissioning.
The Inquiry’s report, Women’s Lives, Women’s Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the Contraception can be downloaded here.