A funding survey by the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV has raised concerns about the government's ability to keep its promise on chlamydia screening for men.
The survey suggests a substantial portion of the £300 million funding earmarked for sexual health that accompanied the Choosing Health White Paper is not reaching front-line sexual health services.
The Government has identified sexual health and GUM as a top six priority for the NHS in the current year but many PCTs and SHAs have withheld all or part of the Choosing Health funding to cover deficits within the PCT or the wider local health economy. Survey results indicate that funding is reaching front-line services in only 30 out of the 191 PCTs surveyed.
On chlamydia screening particularly, 31 PCTs mentioned that funding for the screening programme has been withheld, thereby hampering the roll-out of the programme in those areas.
GUM services and contraceptive services were similarly affected.
Baroness Gould, Chair of the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV commented: 'The IAG believes that it is essential that SHAs and PCTs recognise that investment now in front-line sexual health services will save them a great deal of money in the future.'
MHF CEO Peter Baker, said: 'The Men's Health Forum is very concerned that the assurance given to the Forum by the Department of Health and the National Chlamydia Screening Programme to increase the proportion of men screened — essential if the epidemic is to be brought effectively under control — will be seriously undermined by the failure to allocate earmarked funding to sexual health services.
'Currently, just 17 per cent of screens are of men. The MHF believes that the National Screening Programme should aim for a 50 per cent target and invest in staff training and support, so that staff involved in the localroll outs know how to reach men effectively.'
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