Select committee confirms sexual health funding crisis

Besi Besemar June 2, 2019

Reports says strategy and funding overhaul needed for sexual health system at tipping point.

THE Health and Social Care Select Committee report on sexual health highlights the ongoing funding crisis faced by sexual health services following public health cuts alongside unacceptable standards in service provision caused by a disjointed system, welcomed by NAT (National AIDS Trust).

The Committee has called for a new national strategy for sexual health and states that this must be backed up by clear quality standards and investment.

Deborah Gold
Deborah Gold

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive at NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: “The current system for delivering sexual health services is broken by its disjointed nature and by chronic underfunding. The result is that local authorities are forced to make impossible choices;, doctors do not have the resources they need and inevitably patients suffer. This is not acceptable. We strongly agree with the Committee that the system must be brought together by shared strategic aims for sexual health. Such a strategy must be monitored through clear standards, shared across the system to hold all those responsible to account.”

“Improved strategy alone will not put the system right. Cuts to the public health grant have had a significant adverse effect on the quality and outcomes of sexual health services. The Committee is right to call on Government to remedy this in the forthcoming Spending Review. Public health is a vital component of the health system and we call on the Government to agree a minimum spend on public health services as a proportion of the NHS budget, instead of treating public health services like a poor relation and an easy target for cuts.”

Prevention Green Paper
The Committee calls on the Government to ensure that sexual health prevention forms a core part of the upcoming prevention Green Paper which was announced in a preceding framework document, Prevention is better than cure, in November.

Deborah said: “Given the obvious exclusion of sexual health from the preceding framework for prevention, we are not confident that the Green Paper will deliver what it needs to on sexual health. We are very clear that if sexual health is not a significant component of the prevention Green Paper this will be an abject failure to give sexual health the strategic importance needed.”

On PrEP she said: “The Committee has called for ‘immediate action’ on PrEP, describing access as a ‘postcode lottery.’ We welcome their comment and urge all involved to ensure that all possible spaces on the IMPACT Trial are made available urgently and that routine commissioning of PrEP is expedited.”

Relationships and Sex Education she said: “We entirely agree with the Committee that the Government must take a strong line on participation in Relationships and Sex Education. Too many young people are denied the right to vital information that is essential to their health and wellbeing, now and in the future. It is essential that all young people, including LGBT young people, have access to high quality RSE that is relevant to them.”