With the latest Government figures showing record numbers of people using sexual health services, the Local Government Association has called for cuts to councils’ public health budgets to be reversed.
The figures show that visit to sexual health clinics in England reached 3.3 million in 2017, up 13 per cent on 2013 – or the equivalent of an extra 210 visits per day.
Over the same period, the number of tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV rose 18 per cent, from 1,513,288 in 2013 to 1,778,306 in 2017.
The LGA warns that in the context of budget cuts, this rising demand “is putting a severe strain on councils’ resources” and that it will be “hugely challenging” to maintain the current level of service if the Government does not reverse £600 million cuts to public health services.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “While it’s great to see a huge increase in people taking their sexual health seriously, this rising demand is pushing some councils’ sexual health services to peak capacity levels which are not sustainable in the long-term.
“With capacity and resources already being stretched to the limit, clinics are reporting an increase in the number of lengthy delays and people having to be turned away as appointments are fully booked.
“Demand for sexual health services has risen successively for the past five years and there is a real risk of waiting times increasing and patient experience deteriorating.
“Cuts to public health funding need to be reversed as this could affect councils’ ability to meet further increases in demand and respond to unforeseen outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections.