New recommendations for sexual health commissioning must be backed up with adequate funding for services

1st September 2017

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) welcomes the publication of Public Health England’s (PHE) new report on the commissioning landscape for sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services across England.

The report, which is based on findings from a survey of NHS and local authority commissioners carried out in February 2016, highlights a number of sexual health commissioning challenges that have arisen since the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act in 2013.

The most alarming of these has been the development of a fragmented commissioning environment and the difficulties in ensuring access to sexual health services in the face of increasing demand and financial pressures, particularly in local authorities. These are compounded by contracting issues, including cross charging, and workforce concerns in both clinical and commissioning arenas.

The report makes a number of recommendations to help address these challenges, including the reduction of fragmented commissioning and barriers, increased support for effective, capable commissioning, and monitoring of outcomes. It also recommends that sexual health, reproductive health and HIV commissioning is explicitly considered within the development of the new funding mechanisms for public health over the next three years.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Elizabeth Carlin, BASHH President said:

BASHH welcomes the steps taken by PHE to understand and delineate the challenges of commissioning sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services in England. We strongly support more streamlined commissioning, reduction of fragmentation and more effective collaboration between stakeholders.

At a time when record levels of sexually transmitted infections are being diagnosed and services are facing unprecedented demand for access, it is essential that these recommendations are backed up by appropriate funding from Government.

BASHH is keen to work in partnership with PHE and other stakeholders to take forward the recommendations and develop a whole system approach for the benefit of all those who require care.

The new report from Public Health England is available to view online here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sexual-health-reproductive-health-and-hiv-commissioning-review

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