Hot! Hot! Hot!
Dr Olwen Williams
2nd July 2018
And that’s not just the weather. Whilst the UK basks in the glorious sunshine, experiencing the hottest summer since 1976, things have ‘hotted-up’ on several sexual health fronts as well, making life as president of BASHH very interesting!
In June, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sexual and Reproductive Health hosted a hot topic session on ‘The impact of Public Health cuts on Sexual Health’ – Dr Margaret Kingston gave a masterful overview of the issues within our specialty which led to a briefing paper being circulated to the both the House of Lords and House of Commons regarding the challenges services in England currently face.
In early July, Matt Hancock MP replaced the Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt, as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. In his first weeks, Mr Hancock has announced that £487m will be invested in technology in the NHS, expressed his concern about NHS staff morale, and says he will focus on NHS workforce and raising the profile of prevention. Interestingly, he has also announced that he will be investing in community pharmacies and partnering with Amazon to make NHS health care advice available via ‘Alexa’. On July 24th he was called before the influential Health and Social Care Select Committee for an intensive questioning on his anticipated priorities for the NHS. In response to numerous questions from Committee members on his vision for public health, the Minister outlined his commitment to prevention but said that specific public health funding plans would be revealed in the next Spending Review. We will continue to work with key allied organisations to push the case for additional support for sexual health.
The really HOT topic in July was #MGen. The launch of the draft M. Genitalium guidelines (available online here) at the BASHH study day went viral with interest from across the globe, including interviews on BBC news, CNN, all the broadsheets and even Men’s Health Australia! The brilliant interview given by Dr Suneeta Soni for BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour is available online here, and I recommend anyone who hasn’t yet had a chance to listen to it to do so when they have a spare few minutes. In addition to Suneeta, I’d also like to thank Dr’s Paddy Horner, Peter Greenhouse and Mark Lawton who were kept extremely busy that week handling media interviews but who all did an amazing job. Thank you also to all the BASHH members who were able to complete the MGen ‘Surveymonkey’ questionnaire - the information you provided helped enormously and without this, we wouldn’t have had nearly the same level of media interest.
Many of you will have watched ‘The People vs The NHS: Who gets the drugs?’, a documentary about PrEP featuring amongst others Dr Mags Portman. The documentary follows Greg Owen and his quest to make PrEP accessible to all. Whilst individuals in both Scotland and Wales have open access to PrEP, there is still concern about the limited places on the PrEP trial in England. BASHH with BHIVA, THT and NAT have called for PrEP to be freely available in England by April 2019 and continue to try and make this a reality.
We also learnt that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has finally recommended that boys should be vaccinated against HPV (statement available online here), and excitingly, just before the newsletter went to press, the new Health Minister has confirmed that the Government will be taking up the JCVI’s advice and make the vaccine available for boys aged 12 to 13 in England. This is of course absolutely fantastic news, as is the fact that rollout in Scotland and Wales will also take place as soon as possible. The result of many years of hard work and persistence!
On a personal note I am delighted to announce that I have been elected to sit on the RCP’s London Council. Hopefully, I will be able to raise the profile of o Specialty and work with our immediate Past President Dr Elizabeth Carlin, who chairs the RCP Joint Specialist Committee on important matters such as workforce, training and public health. If you are an RCP London member, please do consider completing the survey on RCP policy and campaigns priorities 2018-20.
On a final note, and after what I’m sure has been a particularly busy few months for many of you, I hope you are all able to take some time to enjoy the fine weather and get some hugely deserved R&R.
Dr Olwen Williams,