UK patients have the right to free, confidential, quality contraceptive and sexual health (CASH) services. But recent reports point to a disturbing future for contraception services in the UK. A total of 3.2 million women of reproductive age (15-44) are served by PCTs that limit access to contraception services and advice.
There is strong evidence that women over the age of 25 are the worst affected and are being denied contraception based on age, residency and method. There is an absolute correlation between areas with restrictions in contraception and higher than average abortion rates.
These findings are supported by Brook and FPA's anecdotal experiences: both organisations are receiving increasing numbers of enquiries from concerned people unable to gain access to the advice, products and services they need.
The charities have joined forces to launch XES - We Can't Go Backwards, a major awareness campaign. A growing body of evidence is proving that choice is being restricted and rights eroded. The charities are warning of a 'toxic mix' of circumstances combining to create a looming crisis in unplanned pregnancy, abortion and sexual health, unless urgent action is taken.
This campaign affords people the opportunity to comment or provide anonymous feedback about their experiences of access and provision from CASH services. Clients may be deterred from commenting on their experience for a reasons including fear of breach of confidentiality or judgement, stigma or prejudice.
The 2012 Health and Social Care Act focuses on protecting patients rights to choice, ensuring a 'greater voice for patients' and advocating that 'service providers and commissioners should welcome all sources of feedback, through which to assess the quality of their services'.
In the current health climate, where national sexual health and teenage pregnancy strategies have now ended, it is vital services empower clients to share experiences and with commissioners to help maintain, improve or shape future service provision that meets client needs.