Sexual health services in Wales lack consistency and clear accountability, leaving too many people without ready access to the services they need to ensure good sexual health.
Access to services
The provision of sexual health services varies hugely between regions of Wales. For example, there is currently only limited statutory sexual health service provision in Powys, which means that people need to travel long distances, including over the border into England, to access services.
There is little clarity on the level of access to sexual health services in Wales, as well as the degree to which people living with HIV have access to the support services they need. Data collection and reporting is inconsistent, which makes analysis and evaluation difficult.
There is an urgent need in Wales for consistent sexual health service provision based on up-to-date needs assessments and underpinned by strong national indicators to measure progress. There is also a need for standardised methods of collecting and promptly reporting service data, as well as clear leadership and accountability from the Welsh Government and local health boards.
What’s happening now?
The review by Public Health Wales [PDF], published in February 2018, gave an open and honest overview of the challenges facing sexual health services in Wales, and made a number of recommendations to address these.
In April 2018, the Welsh Government confirmed its commitment to improving sexual health services in Wales, and the Minister for Health set a two-year timeframe to implement the recommendations of the review.
Work is now underway by the Welsh Government on determining the specification of a national sexual health data collection system. They are also working with Local Health Boards to assess their current provision and to inform local improvement plans.
What we’re doing
We were part of the steering group for the Public Health Wales review and we continue to work as part of the implementation group to ensure that rapid investment in data collection and reporting systems is prioritised, strong national indicators developed, and additional funding allocated to meet the increased demand for sexual health interventions.