Dublin Well Woman Centre calls for long-acting reversible contraception to be the cornerstone of a fully State funded contraception scheme

Dublin Well Woman Centre calls for long-acting reversible contraception to be the cornerstone of a fully State funded contraception scheme

  • New figures show demand continues to rise for Long Acting Reversible Contraception, with 20% uplift between 2014 and 2018
  • Busy year with CervicalCheck crisis and planning for Early Medical Abortion

The Dublin Well Woman Centre (DWWC) has today launched its 2018 Annual Report which highlights the increasing demand by women for long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). This finding comes as the Department of Health has established a working group to make recommendations to Minister Harris on improving access to contraception. With the introduction of Early Medical Abortion (EMA) services, DWWC is calling on the Government to follow up with a fully State-funded, free-to-the-patient contraceptive service with LARCs at its centre.

LARCs have proven to be a much more effective form of contraception than the oral contraceptive pill, with evidence showing them to be at least 10 times more effective than any other form of reversible contraception.

The 2018 Annual Report points to a particularly busy year for DWWC which dealt with the impact of the CervicalCheck crisis from Summer 2018, as it also began preparations for the provision of an Early Medical Abortion (EMA) service, following repeal of the 8th Amendment.

DWWC Chief Executive Alison Begas commented: There is a growing demand amongst women in Ireland for LARCs – as evident in our report – with many women increasingly aware of the benefits of LARCs when presenting to a Well Woman Clinic doctor for their initial consultation.

“This finding should be considered fully by the Department of Health’s working group on improving access to contraception, which is due to report to Minister Harris by the end of September.  Our submission to the Department makes clear that ‘Fit and Forget’ contraceptives (LARCs) are both the most effective form of contraception, and also the most cost-effective form of contraception in the long term. We are calling on the Minister to ensure LARCs are at the cornerstone of a fully State-funded, free-to-the-patient contraceptive service.”

 Women need to be aware that over a 30-35 year period they will have different contraceptive needs and preferences at different stages in their lives. Based on our clinical experience, it is clear that Ireland’s sexual health needs have changed – as well as societal attitudes in light of the repeal of the 8thAmendment – with women living longer and consequently remaining sexually active for longer. To reflect these changes in society the Government needs to put in place well-resourced, quality services which are accessible, effective, and affordable to every woman who wants them.

Well Woman’s Medical Director, Dr Shirley McQuade added:Women who have not yet had a pregnancy are often unaware that LARCs are also suitable for women who have never given birth. In our busy city-centre clinic we fit more intra-uterine LARCs in women who have never given birth than in women who have had a pregnancy.”

The 2018 Annual Report also highlights the impact the CervicalCheck crisis had on the Dublin Well Woman Centre – as the largest primary care smear-taker in the country – and on its patients.

“With 9,000 CervicalCheck smear tests being taken in our clinics, this volume caused waiting times at the facility we use – the Coombe Hospital laboratory in Dublin – to increase to 12 weeks or more. After a lot of hard work by staff in both organisations this time gradually decreased to the normal 4-6 weeks”, commented Dr McQuade.

“Women continue to feel a considerable level of worry and concern over the integrity of the process, which has led to an ongoing increase in phone calls to our Well Woman clinics from women who are often not our patients but who are seeking further information.”

“We welcome the smear-test tracking system announced as part of the MacCraith review, which will allow women to see where their smear test is in the process, as well as the HSE’s commitment ‘to develop a culture of putting women first’. It is also encouraging to see an openness to engaging with patient’s representatives, however it is essential that they hear from smear-takers and engage with us in a two-way process.”

“We also welcome the commitment to accelerate developing the national screening centre in the Coombe Hospital, but we are calling for a specific date for this to be put in place,” concluded McQuade.

You can download our 2018 Annual Report here.