10 Things You Need to Know Before the Government Cuts Sexual Health Services

In June the government announced a £200million pound cut to the health budget. The cuts were apparently based on projected local authority underspends, so they were not supposed to affect frontline services...

1. In June the government announced a £200million pound cut to the health budget. The cuts were apparently based on projected local authority underspends, so they were not supposed to affect frontline services.

2. Really? How come the Central and North West London (CNWL) NHS Foundation Trust is now trying to close the Margaret Pyke Centre as part of plans to implement £6million worth of cuts to sexual health services over the next two years.

3. Closing the Margaret Pyke Centre would be a staggering waste of money. The centre only moved from run down premises in Fitzrovia to a spanking new Kings Cross refurb in 2013. The new state-of-the-art clinic has been designed to provide a complete and integrated sexual health care service, including contraception, smear testing, pregnancy testing, abortion referral and advice, STI screening and treatment, psychosexual counselling and a whole raft of other services. The centre treats over 75,000 patients every year and is nationally recognised as one of the most comprehensive and effectively run training programmes in sexual and reproductive health care.

4. Closing the Margaret Pyke Centre makes no financial sense. The Department of Health estimates that every £1 spent on contraception saves £12.50 in averted healthcare costs, so restricting access to sexual health services is completely counterproductive.

5. Britain already has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Western Europe, but the UK's leading sexual health charities, Brook and the FPA estimate that further restrictions to sexual health services will lead to an additional 83,648 live births as a result of unplanned pregnancies.

6. In 'Unprotected Nation', Stephen Lucas of Development Economics analysed the financial and economic impacts of restricted contraceptive and sexual health services. His estimates suggest that if cuts continue and more people are denied access to contraceptive methods, the additional cost to the NHS could total between £8.3billion and £10billion.

7. Research conducted in 2012 by the Advisory Group on Contraception (AGC), found that 3.2million women aged between 15 and 44 had already experienced restrictions in obtaining sexual health and contraceptive services. This was directly reflected in the abortion rate. In 2014, 180,000 abortions were carried out, but the average abortion rate was 9.7% higher in areas where services were restricted.

9. Brook and the FPA also predict that cuts will lead to a further 91,620 sexually transmitted infections. Infection rates are already out of control. The number of children aged under 16 who have had an STI has doubled in the last 10 years and emerging strains of gonorrhoea are now untreatable because they have become completely drug resistant.

10. Girls are six times more likely to be diagnosed with STIs than boys, purely because they are more likely to access clinics like Margaret Pyke where on site STI testing is available. Instead of cutting sexual health services this government should be trying to extend provision so that boys begin to take sexual health seriously. Half of all STIs occur in the under 25s but very few young men are aware that untreated STI's can lead to prostatitis, epididymitis, infertility, impotence and reactive arthritis. This government has already failed to make sex and relationships education statutory, which means that the most sexually active population remain the least sexually competent. And now it wants to limit access to contraception and sexual health services? So much for the big society.

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