BASHH welcomes new RCGP report highlighting risks to sexual health services

28th July 2017

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) welcomes the Royal College of General Practitioners’ (RCGP) important new report into the state of sexual health care in this country.

The report, ’Sexual and Reproductive Health, Time to Act’ highlights growing concerns from the RCGPs membership that the improvements seen in sexual health and reproductive health in recent years are being put in jeopardy. An increased demand for services and rising rates of sexually transmitted infection are coming at a time when GPs are reporting that it is more difficult to access appropriate training and sexual health budgets are facing unprecedented cuts.

Recent findings from the King’s Fund revealed that local councils are due to spend £30m less on sexual health in the coming year compared to 2016/17, representing a 5 per cent reduction in the amount of money available for services.

Meanwhile, data released by Public Health England in June 2017 showed that newly diagnosed cases of syphilis were at their highest level since 1950, whilst rates of sexually transmitted infections amongst men who have sex with men are 38% higher than in 2012. New reports have also shown that the first cases of gonorrhoea resistant to all existing antibiotics have been identified in three countries - France, Spain and Japan.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Elizabeth Carlin, BASHH President said:

The findings from this important new report from the RCGP are extremely worrying and demonstrate that insufficient support for GPs is exacerbating sexual health inequalities. The unprecedented demand for sexual health services, record number of new STI diagnoses and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea are in danger of creating a ‘perfect storm’ for sexual health, with potentially devastating consequences for patients and society.

It is essential that sexual health services and those working in primary care are appropriately funded and supported so that vital sexual health promotion, prevention, appropriate contraception, STI testing and treatment can be provided. There should be access to timely and high-quality sexual healthcare for all who need it, and this must be a key priority for policymakers and commissioners moving forwards.

The full report is available online here

 

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