Charity warns that cuts to sexual health services could compromise contraception choices

As NICE issues a new quality standard for contraception advice, a leading nurse has warned against cuts to sexual health services.
Contraception advice

Cuts in funding to sexual health services by local authorities could jeopardise patients’ ability to make informed choices about contraception, a leading nurse has said.

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Sue Burchill, head of nursing at sexual health charity Brook, was responding to a new quality standard on contraception published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The standard sets out the key areas where advice for women regarding contraception needs to improve.

It advises that women requesting emergency contraception should be told that copper intrauterine devices (IUD or coil) are more effective than the morning after pill for emergency contraception.

Informed choices

Women should be informed about long-acting reversible (LARC) methods such as the coil when asking for contraception, it adds.

Ms Burchill said: ‘All young people should be provided with accurate information in order to make an informed choice about what is best suited to their individual needs.

‘We would urge local authorities not to jeopardise this by making cuts to funding for sexual health services.’

In November 2015, the Family Planning Association warned the government’s £200 million cut to local council public health budgets could end up costing the health service in the region of £3.5 billion over the next 10 years as unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) go up.

IUD endorsement

Ms Burchill endorsed the NICE recommendation that the coil should be promoted ahead of the pill.

The coil is effective up to five days after unprotected sex. A doctor on the standards panel added it can be left in place for up to 10 years.

The new standard reveals that 95% of emergency contraception issued by sexual and reproductive health services in 2014/15 was for the pill, according to data from NHS Digital.

It also shows how requests for LARC accounted for 37% of all approaches to sexual health services.

Further information:

NICE quality standard on contraception