The Government’s planned cuts to public health budgets could end up costing the health service in the region of £3.5bn over the next 10 years as unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) go up, sexual health experts are warning.
A report by the Family Planning Association anticipated cutbacks as a result of the Government’s £200m cut to local councils’ public health budgets, due to take effect from January, will hit sexual health and contraceptive services particularly hard.
The possibility of further cuts to be announced in the Chancellor’s spending review next week will exacerbate this, it added.
Assuming a 10% reduction in access to these services, economists estimate this could cost an extra £2.4bn over the next 10 years on healthcare related to unwanted pregnancies, and an additional £1.1bn on dealing with STIs.
The report found the wider costs to the public could be between £17bn and £28bn.
FPA chief executive Natika H Halil said the 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’.
Dr Anne Connolly, a GPin Bradford and chair of the Primary Care Women’s Forum, said the cuts put at risk ‘a decade of hard work’ improving training in and access to contraception.
Dr Connolly said: ‘Making cuts to contraceptive services not only makes bad economic sense, it compromises the health and wellbeing of those who are already the most vulnerable.’