Reproductive and sexual health – Government action
UK Government actions
- In December 2020, NHS England published revised guidance on visitor restrictions in maternity units during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing pregnant women to have support from one person throughout their maternity journey.
- In December 2020, Public Health England published guidance to help reduce inequalities of outcomes for ethnic minority women and their babies.
- In March 2020, due to the pandemic, the UK Government approved temporary measures in England to enable women and girls to take pills for early medical abortion from home, without first needing to attend a hospital or clinic.
- In March 2020, the UK Government announced the full roll-out in England of a preventative drug (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to reduce HIV transmission.
- In October 2019, the UK Government committed to introducing a new national sexual health strategy for England.
- In September 2019, the UK Government extended the roll-out of the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine to boys aged 12–13 in England.
- In September 2019, new regulations in England made ‘age-appropriate’ relationships education compulsory in primary schools, relationships and sex education compulsory in secondary schools, and health education compulsory in state-funded schools from September 2020.
- In spring 2019, the UK Government announced a ‘period product scheme’ to ensure that students in primary, secondary and further education in England have access to free period products in their place of study. It also announced the creation of the Period Poverty Taskforce to tackle period poverty and wider stigma around menstruation.
Read our assessment of the UK Government’s progress on reproductive and sexual health.
Welsh Government actions
Healthcare is devolved to the Welsh Government. However, specific areas relating to reproductive and sexual health are reserved to the UK Government, including abortion, embryology and surrogacy.
- In March 2021, the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021 introduced a mandatory requirement for all schools to teach relationships and sexuality education (RSE). In May 2021, the Welsh Government launched a consultation on the curriculum for RSE.
- In October 2020, the Welsh Government’s Together for Mental Health Delivery Plan 2019–2022 identified improving specialist perinatal mental health services as a priority.
- In 2020, the Welsh Government extended access across Wales to online services to order test kits for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, following a pilot in 2018.
- In March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Welsh Government exercised powers to temporarily enable women and girls to terminate an early pregnancy with prescribed pills taken at home instead of a hospital or clinic. A consultation on making this change permanent closed in February 2021.
- In July 2019, the Welsh Government published a five-year strategy on maternity care in Wales.
- In March 2018, the Welsh Government announced £1 million for local authorities and schools to tackle period poverty. A further £3.1 million was allocated in 2020–21 to allow every school and college in Wales to provide free period products, and local authorities were allocated £220,000 each to provide products in public buildings such as libraries.
- In May 2017, the Welsh Government announced a three-year study to make pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV available to any individual if clinically appropriate. In June 2020, the Welsh Government announced that this treatment would be available permanently.
- In November 2016, the Welsh Government commissioned Public Health Wales to undertake a review of sexual health services in Wales. The review was published in 2018. Subsequently, the Welsh Government commissioned a further review into prison sexual health services.
Read our assessment of the Welsh Government’s progress on reproductive and sexual health.