Sexual Health Checks Fall By Almost 250,000 As Services Suffer Severe Cuts

Sexual and reproductive health checks have fallen by 245,000 in three years, amid “swingeing” cuts to the vital services, new figures published by the Labour party show.

Spending on the facilities by local authorities fell by £56 million over the past five years, according to House of Commons library data.

It comes as the number of people diagnosed with syphilis and gonorrhoea is on the rise. 

There were 420,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases in 2017, Public Health England figures show.

Health minister Steve Brine revealed the extent of the decline in response to a parliamentary question from shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jon Ashworth.

Brine also admitted the number of face-to-face consultations fell by 85,000 and the number of non face-to-face consultations halved, falling by more than 13,000 since 2016/17.

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Declining contact with sexual and reproductive health services have raised concerns about access to facilities.

In January, HuffPost UK reported on the impact of the loss of one sexual health clinic in Ipswich, after funding was withdrawn by the local council.

Labour will use an Opposition Day Motion in the House of Commons on Tuesday to try and force the Government to reverse cuts to public health budgets.

Ministers were earlier accused of ‘sneaking out’ an £85 million cut to the public health budget last December, in a move which affects sexual health clinics and other services, such as mother and baby support.

Ashworth warned that the “completely short-sighted” cuts will result in wider pressures on the NHS over the long term.

Cuts could impact population health and spark a rise in future demand for treatment, Labour warned.

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“The government can’t be taken seriously on their commitment to prevention while at the same time cutting vital services that provide contraception, tackle sexually transmitted infections and offer crucial support and advice,” Ashworth said.

“It’s why in the Commons on Tuesday I will demand that Ministers start by reversing these swingeing cuts to public health provision and publish their equality impact assessments so we can see the effects these cuts are having on society.

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He added: “If Tory MPs refuse to join us in blocking cuts to public health services it will show once again they simply can’t be trusted with our NHS.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement: “We have a strong track record on sexual health with teenage pregnancies at an all-time low and sexually transmitted infections continuing to fall.

“Sexual health services and tests are now more widely available online – over 11,000 diagnoses from online tests were reported last year.

“Prevention is at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan, and comes alongside the £3 billion we are giving to councils to fund public health services this year, including sexual health services.”


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