Health CommitteeWritten evidence from Bayer (ETWP 08)

1. Executive Summary

1.1 Bayer is the leading pharmaceutical company with a focus on contraception. We believe that ensuring that women of all ages have information on and access to the full range of contraceptives is critical to reducing unintended pregnancy, and to improving women’s health, well-being and life-chances. To ensure women have access to the full range of contraceptives a highly trained NHS and public health workforce is crucial for ensuring high standards of care and in providing choice for users of such services.

1.2 Bayer has welcomed the Department of Health’s commitment towards “maintaining a well-trained, highly motivated public health workforce”,1 as set out in the Public Health White Paper. Such a commitment is vital to address and avoid unnecessary variations in access to contraceptive services.

2. Ensuring the Right Numbers of Appropriately Qualified and Trained Healthcare Staff

2.1 In order for the Department of Health to deliver on its commitment for a well-trained public health workforce, it will be critical for Public Health England and local commissioners to have a clear idea of the number of qualified health professionals required to meet the needs of local people.

2.2 Long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARC) are birth control methods that provide effective contraception for an extended period of time. Contraceptive options that are LARC methods are: the intrauterine system (IUS); intrauterine device (IUD); contraceptive injection; and sub-dermal implant (SDI). The IUS, IUD and SDI methods need to be fitted and removed by a trained and qualified healthcare professional, and not every general practitioner or practice nurse, for example, may be trained and able to provide these options to women who wish to choose them (although they should be able to refer women to another clinic where they could access them).

2.3 Currently there is no audit or register of the number of health professionals who are qualified to fit and remove each type of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). It is essential that existing and emerging commissioners, as well as local health and wellbeing boards, have this type of information available when developing commissioning plans. This will mean that they can make an accurate assessment of whether they have a sufficient workforce in place to meet existing and future local health needs, or if they need to train more healthcare professionals to provide fit these methods.

2.4 The Committee should consider recommending to the Department of Health that health professionals’ regulatory bodies should collect details on the number of healthcare professionals trained to fit and remove different types of LARC. This information should be made publicly available to identify variations and ensure there is sufficient provision of trained LARC fitters in all parts of the country to meet existing and future need.

3. Delivering High and Consistent Standards of Education and Training

3.1 Bayer is concerned that an unintended consequence of the Department of Health’s proposals to transfer responsibility for training provision to providers could exacerbate the existing shortage of healthcare professionals who are trained to provide, fit and remove all forms of contraception.

3.2 Bayer is further concerned that a lack of set training requirements for healthcare professionals could lead to unacceptable variations in the standards of education and training, thereby impacting on the quality of interventions.

3.3 The Committee should consider recommending that the NHS Commissioning Board and Public Health England are required to set training requirements for healthcare professionals delivering interventions such as sexual health and contraceptive services.

3.4 The Committee should consider recommending that Directors of Public Health are encouraged to highlight examples of good practice in training and development which can be shared with other commissioners at a local, regional and national level.

December 2011

1 Department of Health, Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our strategy for public health in England, November 2010.

Prepared 22nd May 2012