Local councils managing clinics in England report a crisis in sexual health services. These services are under strain from rising infection rates, requiring urgent government funding. The government’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities reports that gonorrhea diagnosis rates have increased in nearly every English council since 2017.
STD Crisis: England’s Sexual Health Services Struggle as Demand Surges – Urgent Call for Government Funding and Action!
The Local Government Association (LGA), representing sexual health clinic councils, warns that demand is outpacing capacity. The LGA urges the government to fund and publish a long-term plan to combat and manage STDs.
The Department of Health says local public health services will receive over £3.5 billion this year. The LGA stresses the need for more resources to combat the rise in STDs.
Most council areas have seen a rise in gonorrhea diagnoses, with concerns about syphilis and chlamydia infections. According to the LGA, younger gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are driving the spike, but heterosexual rates are also rising. Infections rose before the pandemic, but experts attribute the rise to a rebound effect post-Covid restrictions. Increased testing and service access may have also led to more cases.
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Urgent Call for Funding and National Strategy Amid Soaring STD Rates!
Councillor David Fothergill, LGA Community Wellbeing Board chairman, highlights the unprecedented demand for local sexual health services. He stresses that sexual health services improve detection rates, prevent long-term illness and unwanted pregnancies, reduce NHS strain, and improve community health. Gonorrhoea and syphilis cases reached record highs in 2022, according to a UK Health Security Agency report from the year before.
The British Sexual Health and HIV Association president, Dr. Claire Dewsnap, warns that underinvestment threatens service quality and accessibility. She calls for a solid national strategy with adequate funding to combat the alarming rise in STDs.
The Department of Health and Social Care promises to increase public health funding, including sexual health, over the next three years. The UK Health Security Agency, local authorities, and NHS England work together to manage sexual reproductive health service pressures and improve routine service access.