Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Wednesday, 18 November 2015

STIs, Abortions To Increase Under Government Cuts, Charity Says

STIs, Abortions To Increase Under Government Cuts, Charity Says

The Debrief: Health cuts might save money for now, but government will have to pay the price later…

Hold on, guys, this is going to be a depressing ride. So you know how the deepest cuts to UK frontline services are just beginning to be felt? Well, a new report has shown how NHS cuts are going to worm their way into your knickers.

The Family Planning Association, which works to provide safe and accessible sexual healthcare and reproductive rights across the country, have released a report into the eventual financial costs of potential cuts to the sexual health budget. It's called Unprotected Nation.

And the results are depressing. For every £1 saved now, it could cost £86 down the line. You see, if funding for things like condoms are cut, then things like teenage pregnancy, STI rates and abortions might very well rise.

It’s more complicated than the Government rushing round swiping people’s condoms. Councils are being given more power than ever… to make cuts, and they have to deliver on these cuts. This means some things are prioritised over others.

That’s how the Margaret Pyke Centre is facing closure. The clinic in north London has been open for 45 years and was one of London’s first places to offer women long-term reversible contraception, like the pill or the coil. But now? It’s not getting enough funding to run itself. If it doesn’t make £6 million in the next year, then it closes, and access to contraception, sexual health advice and safe abortions is limited.

The stats say that the extra cost of unintended pregnancies caused by this reduced access to contraception easily could be as high as £8.295 billion. As for STIs? The number of extra diagnoses could be as many as 72,299 in the next five years. This includes an extra 20,000 gonorrhea cases. The rise of STIs caused by cuts could cost the UK an extra £363 million.

And the report warns that, when it comes to teen pregnancy, which we’ve managed to get to a record low, ‘cutting expenditure now could push us back to much higher 2003 levels.’

The FPA could have done a report looking at the emotional impact of cuts to frontline sexual health services, but it’s obvious that the Government’s priority is economy. So they costed up the eventual price of hypothetical cuts – and these are just cuts of 10% - to sexual health. And when you look at the cold hard numbers, it’s just not very sexy at all, is it?

FPA’s Chief Executive Natika H Halil said: ‘This report clearly shows that making cuts to sexual and reproductive health funding results in enormous costs further down the line and is incredibly short-sighted.’

She admits the 10% estimation is ‘conservative’, but hopefully enough to show the Government what the full extent of their cuts – to be announced in an upcoming spending review – will do.

‘We have already seen evidence of service restrictions and the potential effect of further cuts is frankly terrifying. This report must serve as a stark warning to the Government ahead of announcing its spending review later this month.’

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Tags: Abortion, Sex, Pure Politics, Health