Getting help with sexual health getting worse instead of better in the UK

According to a newly released survey, regardless of increased government spending, sexual health clinics in Britain are worse now than they were three years ago.

The survey which was commissioned by the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, the British HIV Association, Providers of AIDS Care and Treatment and the Terrence Higgins Trust, says the extra national investment in sexual health services is failing to reach the grass roots.

It was completed by 66 primary care trusts and 88 sexual heath clinic doctors.

Three quarters of doctors treating sexually transmitted diseases say sexual health is not sufficiently prioritised despite government targets and access to services at their clinics got worse last year.

Only half of the 66 primary care trusts which were surveyed reported a real increase in funding, despite the promised extra government funds.

The UK now apparently has the worst sexual health in western Europe, and the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) since the end of the Second World War.

Diagnoses of HIV and almost all other sexually transmitted infections continue to rise year after year and cases of chlamydia, which can cause infertility in women, have tripled over 10 years.

Cases of chlamydia, which can cause infertility in women, have tripled over 10 years.

Recent government announcements that sexual health was one of its six key priorities for the National Health Service appear to be just that as the survey has revealed local health bodies are failing to deliver on that priority.

The survey in fact registered a 'noticeable disconnect between governmental strategic plans and local practical action'.

The survey says it is clear that money intended for the improvement of sexual health services is, in many cases, not reaching the intended target.

Almost all doctors at sexual health clinics reported increased patient activity last year while only three percent had more staff to cope with the extra demand.

Almost two thirds of clinics have turned patients away, and twice as many doctors say access is worsening.

Primary care trusts, are in effect receiving from the government an extra 300 million pounds to achieve its sexual health targets which include a 48-hour waiting limit for sexual health appointments by 2008.

Many feel the money allocated to go to sexual health needs to be audited to ensure it is not siphoned off to other areas.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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