A report, published today by the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), the British HIV Association (BHIVA), Providers of AIDS Care and Treatment (PACT) and Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), paints an unhealthy picture of the state of local sexual health services in England, despite a clear national focus and additional funding being made available for service improvements.
Disturbing Symptoms is the fourth annual survey of how Primary Care Trusts managed sexual health and HIV in 2005, and how specialist clinicians viewed their progress. Despite encouraging conditions for the reversal of sexual ill health trends in England, it is clear that for too many local services, additional funds are not getting through, and the national priority is not mirrored locally. Key findings include:
89% of clinicians report increased patient activity in 2005, but only 3% reported an increase in staffing
Almost two thirds of clinics have turned patients away, and twice as many doctors say access is worsening compared to those for whom it is improving
Money allocated for the improvement of sexual health services is not reaching the intended target. Only half of PCTs reported a real increase in funding, and almost one in ten report a real-term decrease
73% of clinicians believe sexual health is not sufficiently prioritised locally despite clear Government targets
Said Lisa Power, Head of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust “The Government has provided a very clear steer that sexual health services must be prioritised, together with the 48 hour access target, and additional funding to help modernise services.
“It’s now in the hands of PCTs to make this a local priority, and ensure the additional funding is spent making those improvements. This is our best chance to reverse the shocking trend of declining sexual health in England. Failure to take it will leave current service problems untreated and festering, with dreadful consequences for the sexual health of the nation.”
Sexual health in England continues to worsen, with diagnoses of HIV and almost all other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continuing to rise year on year. The UK now has the worst sexual health in Western Europe, and the highest rates of STIs since the end of the Second World War.