Sexual health providers fear they will be forced to stop treating vulnerable and at-risk patients in some parts of the country unless they receive additional government funding to cover the cost of tackling the monkeypox outbreak.
In a letter to NHS England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Department of Health and Social Care, sexual health leaders say that on average 25-30% of all services they have been superseded by monkeypox assistance since the first case was identified. beginnings of May.
This includes a 90% reduction in access to STI testing in the most affected areas, and the need for half of providers to reduce their delivery of PrEP services to those at risk of contracting HIV in a 25%.
They say this drop in appointments for evaluation and treatment has resulted in STI outbreaks in various parts of the country.
The letter signed by the British HIV Association and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV says: “In some cases, this shift in financial terms means a potential loss of income for clinics of more than £600,000 per quarter.
“This level of revenue loss risks destabilizing clinics, with loss of staff and, as some vendors warned us, possible vendor exit from the market.”
Sexual health leaders also say vaccination funding of £15 per dose delivered has yet to reach any of the clinics, does not cover the cost of providing the service and does not cover providers for job displacement.
In a separate letter to the Directors of Public Health and the Commissioned Officers in the District Councils, they advocated that the funds not be withdrawn while they seek additional funds.
“After repeated campaigning with the government and with NHS England/Improvement, we are still at the stage where these national agencies repeatedly request testing while this burden on services remains unfunded,” the letter says.
“We continue to push them to fund MPX and have repeatedly warned them that the exceptional nature of this epidemic, the transmission routes of MPX and its impact should not be viewed as routine spending on sexual health.”
In response to the letters, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with the UK Health Security Agency, local authorities and NHS England to manage pressures on health services. and reproductive health and ensure that access to routine services is maintained.
“The public health grant will increase in each of the next three years, bolstering sexual health services and allowing people to access treatment faster.”
Analysis by Sky News has found that spending on sexual health clinics has fallen in almost all local authorities in England since the service became the responsibility of local governments in 2013, according to spending and revenue funding data from local authorities.
There have been 3,654 confirmed or highly probable cases of Monkeypox since May 6, at its peak in mid-July there were around 60 cases per day. That number decreased throughout August and continues to drop.
More than 45,000 people have received a dose of the Monkeypox vaccine, including about 40,000 gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who are at the highest risk of exposure.
People at highest risk are still being prioritized, but some clinics will offer second doses to provide longer-term protection to vulnerable groups two to three months after receiving the first dose, and the NHS will invite those eligible to come forward.