Medical experts have warned cuts to sexual health services will lead to a surge in sexually transmitted infections.
George Osborne’s proposed cuts to the public health budget have been heavily criticised by medical experts, who warn that reduced funding will lead to an increase in STIs, unplanned pregnancies and abortions.
Doctors claim that the need for sexual health services is in fact on the rise – with chemsex and dating apps blamed for the increased rate of sexually transmitted infections within the gay community.
“Cutting funds from frontline NHS sexual health services is a desperate false economy and you don’t have to be a genius to predict the consequences,” warned Dr Peter Greenhouse – a consultant in sexual health medicine and spokesman for the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.
“We’ve already seen the start of a potential explosion in syphilis and gonorrhoea in men who have sex with men, and it’s only a matter of time before the enthusiastic use of dating apps and antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea starts to have an effect on the heterosexual population,” he told The Guardian.
The warnings come as Labour claimed that local councils across England will be forced to spend up to £40m less on services such as testing and treating sexually transmitted infections.
Andrew Gwynne – the shadow public health minister – said that Labour analysis of the possible impact of the £200m budget cut showed that £39.6m less would be spent on sexual health.
However, official figures obtained by the party show that most STIs are increasingly common.
For example, 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.