A report released today by Terrence Higgins Trust confirms how a major crisis is now enveloping sexual health services in England. In several areas, waiting times at sexual health clinics are in excess of six weeks, way short of the proposed national target of 48 hours. The report, More Disturbing Symptoms, illustrates a frightening scenario of services across England failing to meet levels of demand. It is published at a time when the rising sexual health epidemic in England shows no signs of abating, confirmed by another report released today by the Health Protection Agency.
Nick Partridge, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust said: “Waiting up to six weeks for a simple sexual health check is unacceptable to patients as well as to clinic staff who are struggling to provide the level of service they rightly aspire to. A fresh approach is needed – injecting cash into the existing system alone will not tackle the problem. We must make testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections easier. People should be able to test when and where they want, and be able to get their results much faster. It is also essential that HIV and sexual health services are given the priority they need at both national and local levels.”
Terrence Higgins Trust’s surveys of GU clinicians and primary care trusts across England undertaken for the report found that:
more than two thirds of clinicians working in genito-urinary clinics say their ability to provide services is getting worse
only one in eight clinicians think they have enough resources to manage their current workload.
Nearly 80% of clinicians said their drugs budget would be overspent by the end of the year
Almost a third of primary care trusts have done no assessment of needs around sexual health and HIV since they were set up, despite the fast rising numbers of people needing services
One in six primary care trusts have no agreed process for implementing the National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV
Nick continued: “The Health Protection Agency’s report highlights the importance of encouraging people to test for HIV and other STIs, whilst also working to provide quicker, easier tests which are available in community settings, not just in clinics. Terrence Higgins Trust has just opened its first community testing clinic at Lighthouse West London, and we are hopeful that other similar initiatives will help to increase capacity in sexual health services.