Standards for nurse sexual health education considered

Standards for sexual health education for practice nurses are being considered by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology following reports that there is a lack of sexual health provision in primary care.

An all-party parliamentary committee on pro-choice and sexual health found at least 70 per cent of women attending general practices were not being offered the full range of contraceptive methods, while only 5 per cent of practices were offering STI testing.

It called for practices to offer all 14 methods of contraception including implants, IUDs and injections. It also recommended the government provides more financial incentives for practices to provide STI testing and PCTs to focus on cutting the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in the over-18s.

Practice nurse and clinical specialist in family planning in Berkshire Shelley Mehigan said the problem was a lack of training amongst practice nurses.

‘There’s no standardised training, it’s difficult to find accredited courses and then get on them. Practices are either unwilling or unable to give nurses the time off to do the courses as these are not just one-day courses.’

She said there was a great appetite amongst practice nurses to take on more sexual health work and they were ideally placed to carry it out ‘but GPs just expect us to be able to do it without training’.

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology confirmed that the DoH was aware of the problem and had commissioned the faculty to develop training standards in sexual health for all nurses and, in particular, contraception.

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