Serious trends and inequalities in sexual health hidden

The Health and Social Care Committee has claimed that sexual health must be sufficiently funded on a national level, to deliver high quality sexual health services and information.

In its report on sexual health, the committee sats that, despite top line figures for sexual health appearing positive, the data actually hides a number of seriously concerning underlying trends and inequalities as poor sexual health outcomes fall disproportionately on certain groups.

Focusing upon geographical variation in access to the highest standard of sexual health services, the report concludes that sexual health must be sufficiently funded on a national level to deliver high quality sexual health services and information.

The committee, headed by Sarah Wollaston, recommends that Public Health England develop a new sexual health strategy, to provide clear national leadership in this area, ensuring that sexual health funding is increased to levels which do not jeopardise people's sexual health. Inadequate prevention and early intervention increase overall costs to the NHS.

Wollaston said: "High-quality sexual health treatment should be accessible to all. However, it is clear that the current approach this country has to treatment varies massively depending on where you happen to live. This is unfair and threatens the long-term health of individuals seeking a high-quality service and access to vital information on their sexual health.

“We need to develop a new, national strategy in order to tackle the very real threat of increased levels of poor sexual health and to support a workforce that delivers the best service possible, despite growing demands. As part of the Spending Review, the government must ensure sexual health funding is increased to levels which do not put people's sexual and long-term health at risk.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “A national sexual health strategy is essential to help both providers and commissioners to deliver sexual health services to a high quality and consistent level. Co-operation between services is absolutely critical for effective strategic planning. This is increasingly important as sexual health services are now reaching a tipping point amid record demand and the absence of adequate funding

“Radical action is needed in the government’s impending green paper on prevention, to truly help address access to contraception and tackle the growing threat of sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis and gonorrhoea.

“Government reductions to councils’ public health budgets are short-sighted and need to be put on a more sustainable footing, otherwise they will undermine the objectives we all share to improve the nation’s public’s health and tackle inequalities. These cuts need to be reversed as part of the forthcoming Spending Review. We are happy to work with the committee and the government on taking forward the many helpful recommendations in this report.”

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