Government cuts are likely to impact sexual health services, according to two leading charities. Brook and the Family Planning Association (FPA) have warned that efficiency savings will result in an increase in the number of unwanted pregnancies.
Their joint report, Unprotected Nation, also predicts there will be over 2,000 extra abortions a year as a result of cutbacks to local services, and an extra 91,000 STIs over the next seven years.
All of this poses a risk not just to local services and communities, but to individuals’ health. A lot of STIs can be treated in just one appointment, providing there is a health professional on-hand to see you. But it’s not been easy to be seen at a GP surgery or a clinic in London for years now, particularly if you’re looking to schedule your appointment around work like so many other people. And with $20bn of efficiency savings ordered in the health service by 2020, getting an appointment when it’s convenient is becoming even more difficult.
Living in London, it often depends where you live as to the quality of service available. Budgets and services are run by local NHS trusts and local councils. So when I was living in Hackney, it was all but impossible to get an appointment with a GP; but in Merton, I would always be seen the same day. It all depends on how urgently you need to be seen – and with sexual health in particular, it’s always best to go sooner rather than later.
To combat a lot of the stress and uncertainty, a lot of people are choosing to invest their time and energy more wisely – by going private. This obviously isn’t an idea situation, and isn’t suitable for everyone. But if you live in an area where it’s all but impossible to get an appointment outside (or even inside) work hours, it may make sense to visit one of the city’s many private clinics who offer a full range of GP services, including sexual health.
Spending close to £100 on a check-up that you can get for free may sound like unnecessary expenditure. For a country that prides itself on its health service, it sure is hard to reckon with. But if it’s a choice between going private and using half a day’s holiday and losing a few nights sleep, it may be the least bad option.