Rising costs pose ‘prime risk’ to Wirral sexual health services

Efforts to tackle rising sexually transmitted infections (STI) in Wirral could be jeopardised as rising costs pose a “prime risk” to services.

This is according to a new Wirral Council report and comes after warnings from the Local Government Association that sexual health services across England are “at risk of breaking point.”

Fresh statistics for 2022 show the number of new STIs on the Wirral has risen by 17.2% in the last year though new chlamydia cases have largely remained the same.

However, gonorrhoea cases have more than doubled compared to 2021 with syphilis also increasing. Sexually transmitted shigella, which causes violent diarrhoea and can be fatal, saw four cases compared to zero the year before.

Sexual health services in England are currently overseen by local authorities with funding coming out of each council’s public health grant. 

Last year, statistics showed Wirral sexual health services had faced a real terms cut of £400,000 between 2013 and 2022 despite the number of people catching STIs increasing. Wirral sexual health spending is currently below average compared to other councils in Cheshire and Merseyside.

Next week Wirral councillors are expected to approve a £21.1m contract for up to seven years. This includes an increase in funding to ensure services remain “commercially viable and attractive to potential providers.”

A report to the council’s health and social care committee said the rise is needed because of rising inflation as well as increases to NHS staff pay with rising costs “regularly cited as a prime risk to service delivery.”

The report said without the increase, there was a “high likelihood” current providers would stop offering services altogether and “this would jeopardise the future delivery of quality sexual health services in Wirral.”

Across the UK, new statistics showed record levels of gonorrhoea and syphilis. Cllr David Fothergill, from the Local Government Association, said it showed sexual health services “are at risk of breaking point, with rising demand coming at the same time as real terms cuts to funding.”

He added, “This is becoming increasingly unsustainable without a long term increase in councils’ public health grant, which goes towards funding vital sexual health services.

“The government should ensure sexual and reproductive health funding is increased to levels which matches the increases local services have seen in demand. Investment in early intervention helps to save costs to the health service and prevents problems developing further down the line.”

Image: Karolina Grabowska

Why not follow birkenhead.news on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? You can also send story ideas to news@birkenhead.news

Share this

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Facebook comments

Latest news