Thursday, 29 September 2011

The last few weeks

It has been almost a month since I have blogged - during which time;

The Dorries Amendment on abortion counselling was defeated and Anne Milton confirmed that government will be consulting on proposals in relation to counselling. Is it possible to disagree with the notion that women who need counselling should have quick and easy access to non-judgemental, non-directive quality provision?

I do however remain concerned that the debate about counselling provision has led to the search for a solution where there is no problem to fix. There continues to be confusion about what currently happens and what does not happen, about what counselling is and what is isn't. At Brook we are completely committed to ensuring that everyone gets the support they need to make decisions about their pregnancy, and that where required they receive counselling. However the debate and the discussion is unhelpful because it perpetuates myths and misinformation about the current state of play. This is one to watch and to make sure the voice of the pro-choice majority is heard loud and clear - abortion care should be equal to and as good as all other aspects of health care but it should not be subject to unnecessary change, additional hurdles and regulation. And lets be very clear abortion provision is regulated by CQC.

I have spent a week in Cornwall enjoying extreme rain and late September sun with lovely friends. In the middle of the week I spent a morning with staff from Brook Cornwall about what the Brook change programme means for them and exploring their hopes and learning more about the particular local context they are working in. I then went to the stunning Dartington Hall in Devon to spend the evening at the SW Region Public Health Conference at which I was delighted to learn that Gabriel Scally has been appointed as Chief of the clusters of Strategic Health Authorities in the South of England. The pre-dinner presentation on the environment and health was fascinating particularly the pilots being undertaken in Cornish workplaces to improve the relationship between health and productivity.

The Family Education Trust has published their report Unhealthy Confusion, which unsurprisingly argues that a healthy school does not need to provide sex and relationships education. I of course do not agree with this supposition at all - how can a school be a healthy school if children are not learning about relationships both to help them in their relationships within school, their emotional development and ability to seek and ask for help as well as play a pivotal role in safeguarding and protecting children from harm?

The Lib Dems conference took place in Birmingham and the Labour Party Conference has taken place in Liverpool, with just the Conservatives left next week in Manchester.
It was great to see old colleagues and friends, as well as meet new ones and particular pleased at how many local councillors are really interested in ensuring the sexual health needs of their population are met in the changing context. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for all of us interested in sexual health to make contact with local councillors to ask questions, provide information and ensure that teenage pregnancy and sexual health stays on their radar - they have a lot of plates spinning right now.

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