The Department issued guidance to local authorities in March 2013 Commissioning Sexual Health services and interventions (a copy of which is attached) to help local authorities (LAs) to fulfil their legal requirements in relation to open access sexual health services. The guidance sets out that in relation to contraception “reasonable access” is for local determination, but also highlights “there is evidence that it may ultimately be better for patient outcomes, and more cost effective, to offer unrestricted access to all methods for all age groups. This supports women controlling their fertility and ensures contraceptive needs are met using the most effective methods”. The guidance also highlights key findings from the National Institute Clinical Excellence on long-acting reversible contraception.
Departmental officials meet regularly with sexual health organisations to consider the commissioning of sexual health services by LAs. Public Health England is undertaking a survey of local commissioning arrangements for sexual health and developing a tool that will improve monitoring of contraception use at LA level.