Sexual health in UK is worsening

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upset_teenager-290x290 Funding pressures on sexual health services are driving an increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies, a new report warns.

According to Unprotected Nation, published by the Family Planning Association and Brook charities, access to contraceptive services is being rationed as part of the NHS savings agenda.

As a result, the report predicts, there will be over 90,000 additional STIs each year in the UK, including more than 75,000 chlamydia infections.

Treating these infections will cost the NHS over £300m per year, and the cost of additional unplanned pregnancies resulting from the cuts in sexual health services will be similar.

Some trusts are restricting access to NHS contraception on the basis of age or postcode, or restricting the services available.

The report also warns that the current shifting of responsibility for commissioning sexual health services from the NHS to local authorities is likely to further reduce access to these services.

Improving access to contraception and other sexual health services would save £4.4bn in NHS and local authority spending by 2020, the report concludes.

Dr Audrey Simpson, acting CEO of the FPA, commented: “Unplanned pregnancy and STIs have obvious costs to people’s health and well-being, but the heavy financial costs to the NHS and welfare state are also real and serious.

“The wheels of this crisis are firmly in motion. If national and local government ignore the warnings and continue stripping away services, advice and information, the bleak predictions in this report will come true.”