Over one in three local authorities have reduced or plan to reduce the number of sites delivering contraceptive services in the last two years, FoI request reveals.
The Advisory Group on Contraception has undertaken a Freedom of Information request audit of local authority provision of contraceptive care which has revealed austerity’s impact on safe sex.
As well as the reduction in sites since 2015, the FoI results revealed 32 councils closed contraceptive services last year — a significant increase on the 12 local authorities the year before.
Half of councils have cut spending on contraception in the current financial year and 45% have reduced the number of intrauterine systems and devices fitted and removed in general practice.
‘The findings of the AGC’s FOI audit add further evidence to what we already know – reproductive health services are facing an uncertain future,’ the AGC report said.
‘As funding cuts dig deeper, more local authorities are taking the decision to close services.’
‘Cutting budgets for contraceptive services is a false economy,’ the report continued.
‘Every £1 spent on contraception saves over £11 in averted costs to the NHS. Almost half of all pregnancies in England are unplanned with an estimated direct annual cost to the NHS of £240m.
‘Abortion rates among women over the age of 30 are rising steadily. Prescriptions for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) have fallen over the past three years by 6%.
‘This marks a significant turning point, breaking the previous trend of increases.
‘Access to contraception is a fundamental right enshrined in national guidance and legislation. But year-on-year cuts to public health from central government are eroding women’s access to the full range of contraceptive choices.
‘For too many women, this will damage their ability to protect themselves from an unplanned pregnancy.’