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Sexual health, reproductive health and HIV workforce

The Five Year Forward View articulated the NHS’ strong focus on preventing avoidable ill health and premature mortality. HEE has a role in commissioning education and training for both public health specialists and other public health staff. Our work in this area includes working with partners to improve education and training on sexual and reproductive health and HIV, and to contribute to the sustainability of the workforce.

Sexual and reproductive health is a key component of our health and wellbeing, affecting men, women and transgender people throughout their lives. Those from vulnerable and marginalised communities may suffer if they find it difficult to access these services. 

The commissioning and provision of sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services in England is complex. There is a lack of clarity over the division of responsibility for the education and training of this workforce.

We have undertaken scoping into the size of the workforce delivering sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services, what trends exist in the needs of our population, and the key issues affecting this workforce. Our report, available at the bottom of the page, summarises the findings, including:

  • the commissioning and provision of these services in England is complex and fragmented affecting patient experience and continuity of care;
  • the workforce includes a broad range of medical and non-medical, specialist and non-specialist staff, but has not been fully defined making planning difficult;
  • many of the professions working in these services do not have clear education and pre- and post-education and training pathways.

This report sets out recommendations for both ourselves and stakeholders to improve workforce planning, education and training in this area. It has been supported by the Local Government Association (LGA), Shropshire County Council, Spectrum Community Health Community Interest Company, Marie Stopes United Kingdom, NHS England’s Nursing Directorate and British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). It also recommended that Health Education England undertake further work with stakeholders to improve signposting to the qualifications developed for professionals working in sexual health and the relevant awarding bodies.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Public Health Forum has created a training directory highlighting the training and qualifications needed by nursing staff working in sexual health. The tool sits alongside a new publication, Sexual and Reproductive Health, which explains the routes into this area of nursing.

Sexual health education directory

This resource highlights training and qualification requirements for registered nurses, midwives, health advisers and nursing associates as well as unregistered health care support staff working in sexual health. Watch the video below.

Jointly produced by British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), The Faculty of Sexual Health and Reproduction (FSRH) and the National HIV Nursing Association (NHIVNA), and endorsed by Health Education England.

The curriculum provides clear, comprehensive guidance on the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for practitioners working within integrated sexual health and HIV services. It also outlines specifically what nurses will need to do to be effective in their roles.

It will help practitioners, managers, employers, Higher Education Institutions and commissioners, to better understand the role of nurses working in specialist integrated sexual health services.

You can find out more about the curriculum and download it by visiting the BASHH or FSRH pages below:

Advanced Level Curriculum for Nurses - FSRH website

Advanced Clinical Practitioner (ACP) for Nurses - BASHH website

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