Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum by fpa (HA 8A)

TRAINING

  In his evidence, Professor Kinghorn referred to the training programme that will be needed to ensure that there is a sufficient number of professionals in GUM, family planning and general practice to deliver the Government's commitments in the White Paper for sexual health.

  In addition, health trainers will require training if they are to provide sexual health advice as envisaged by the White Paper. Myths and misinformation about contraception and other sexual health issues abound. Furthermore, training for sexual health work is not only about knowledge; attitudes, values and communication skills are crucial too, fpa is the only national organisation that provides this aspect of sexual health training.

  Training was not mentioned in the announcement about the funding for the sexual health component of the White Paper and currently there is not any assessment of the likely costs involved. Professor Kinghorn suggested that the Department of Health should have a budget to support the training programme. fpa totally supports his view as we believe that this will ensure quality and prevent duplication of effort.

CENTRAL FUNDING

  This issue is part of a larger question about the role of the Department of Health in the implementation of the White Paper commitments and the need for the Department to have a budget for this purpose. There are certain activities that are better undertaken at a national level and that need to be funded nationally.

  A key area is the provision of information for the public and to support professional consultations. For example, fpa is currently funded by the Department of Health to provide Sexual Health Direct, a comprehensive sexual health information service, which includes a helpline and the production of leaflets on the major STIs, all methods of contraception and abortion. These leaflets are a highly cost effective way of meeting the need for authoritative written information for use by professionals to back up the advice they give in face-to-face consultations, as good practice requires.

  This, and similar programmes undertaken by national sexual health charities, would be threatened by any further reduction of the Department of Health's sexual health budget and this could in turn undermine the long term viability of these organisations. The Government has stressed the significance of the voluntary sector in achieving its social policy goals and it is vitally important that the role of specialist national organisations is recognised and continues to be appropriately funded.





 
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