BASHH welcomes review of sexual health services in Wales and calls for effective implementation of recommendations

20th April 2018

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) welcomes the publication of a new report – A Review of Sexual Health Services in Wales – that sets out the findings of a multi-year review of the state of sexual health services in Wales.

The review was commissioned by the Welsh Government in November 2016 following the expiration of the Sexual Health and Wellbeing Action Plan for Wales 2010-2015 and has been overseen by Public Health Wales. It features contributions from a wide range of sexual health stakeholders, including significant input from representatives of the BASHH Wales branch.

Structured around six key priority areas identified by the Welsh Government, the review sets out a number of key findings that help to demonstrate the pressures that sexual health services in Wales are under, and where interventions can be made to improve access to care and strengthen public health outcomes more broadly.

Most strikingly, the review found that sexual health clinic attendances have doubled within just five years, unsurprisingly placing considerable pressures upon services. It also highlighted the significant variation that currently exists in sexual health provision in Wales, with those in rural settings for instance facing considerable additional barriers to clinic access, alongside worrying gaps across the country in abortion services.

To help address these challenges the review makes nine key recommendations, including calling for a national service specification to be implemented in all Health Boards that would support delivery of high quality sexual health care, tailored to the needs of local populations. It also sets out the need for greater service capacity, suggesting that this could be achieved through increased provision of drop-in clinics and delivery of bespoke care for at-risk groups, such as for the prison population and those with drug and alcohol dependency.

Commenting on the report, Dr Olwen Williams, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV and sexual health and HIV consultant in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said:

This new report of sexual health services in Wales is extremely timely and we welcome the valuable work that Public Health Wales have taken forward in recent months to identify how the needs of all parts of the population can be better met.

As identified by the review, there are clearly a number of challenges that need to be overcome if we are to ensure that access to services is improved and variation in care reduced.

Whilst BASHH members appreciate the difficult financial environment that the sector is operating within, we remain confident that innovative solutions to these challenges can be found, in line with the recommendations set out in this report. We therefore look forward to continuing working closely with Public Health Wales, the Welsh Government and all other stakeholders in the area to deliver the next steps to this review and to help ensure that the best possible sexual health outcomes are achieved for Wales.

 

A Review of Sexual Health Services in Wales is available online here

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