Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 137-139)



  Mr Burns: Can I start by thanking you all very much indeed for coming to this session of the Health Select Committee. Can I give an apology on behalf of the Chairman of this Committee who, unfortunately, highly unusually because he has an almost 100 per cent attendance record, cannot be here due to a pressing and unavoidable appointment in his constituency. I am afraid you have the monkey rather than the organ grinder.Jim Dowd: Hear! Hear!

Mr Burns

  137. Thank you, colleagues! I would be very grateful if we could start with each one of you just briefly introducing yourselves, please.
  (Ms Weyman) I am Anne Weyman, I am Chief Executive of FPA.
  (Dr Randall) I am Sarah Randall, a consultant in contraception and reproductive health from Portsmouth.
  (Dr Guthrie) I am Kate Guthrie, I am a consultant in sexual health from East Yorkshire.
  (Ms Thomas) I am Jane Thomas. I am Director of the National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health.
  (Mr Jones) I am Ian Jones, Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
  (Ms Davies) I am Liz Davies, UK Director of Marie Stopes International.

  138. Thank you very much. Can I begin, please, just by asking each of you, briefly, whether you are satisfied that the Sexual Health Strategy and recently published action plan are adequate to address the sexual health issues facing this country?
  (Ms Weyman) Obviously we welcome very much the Strategy but we do think there are a number of issues about it. I think there is an issue about how people regard sexual health and what it is and whether it is something positive to do with the positive aspect of people's health and well-being or whether it is about services, the sort of services which are described in the Strategy, or whether it is just about services related such as sexually transmitted infections. I think that confusion tends to be around. To some extent if you read the Strategy sometimes it is not always integrated across all the different areas or as much about promoting well-being as it might be. That particularly comes when you talk about the areas around psycho-sexual services which are very great. Two other key issues are around resources, which was discussed quite a lot in the previous meeting and the issue of training for professionals. I am sure those are issues we are going to say more about this afternoon. My final point would be that I think coming from within Government it does not always look as far ahead as it might to changes that there could be due to changes in technology, changes in professional practice and the possibilities that they can give for having services which are both better for the user and possibly also more cost-effective.

  139. Dr Randall?
  (Dr Randall) Thank you. Yes, like Anne, I welcome the Strategy but I do think that since it has been combined with the HIV and AIDS one it has been somewhat watered down. It is interesting that in the five aims which are noted in the Strategy the word contraception is not actually mentioned. Four of the aims are to do with HIV and STIs and one is to do with abortion. Contraception just seems to have disappeared. After all, if you had good contraception we would not be here to keep out abortions. I think that is perhaps worth thinking about. I feel, also, there is a lack of anything about standards for contraception, again there are targets on the HIV and STI side but not for contraception. Also perhaps what teeth this document is going to have at the end of the day to drive standards up.

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