Cuts to sexual health services will lead to more abortions, unplanned pregnancies and an “explosion” in sexually transmitted infections, medical experts warn. Their warning comes as Labour claims that local councils in England will spend as much as £40m less than planned this year on services such as testing and treating infections such as herpes and syphilis as a result of George Osborne’s decision to cut £200m from the public health budget.
Doctors have criticised the chancellor’s move as short-sighted and bound to increase demand for NHS care at a time when dating apps and “chemsex” are thought to be behind rising STI rates.
Some councils have already started to reduce their budget for testing people suspected to have contracted an infection such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea by as much as 36% as a result.
Diagnoses of gonorrhoea in England have gone from 16,843 in 2010 to 34,958 in 2014 – a rise of 107% – while those for syphilis are up by 63% from 2,647 to 4,317 over the same period. Those for anogenital herpes are also up, though by a much smaller amount – 7% – from 29,698 in 2010 to 31,777 in 2014, answers to parliamentary questions tabled by Labour show. Read more via the Guardian