Catastrophic Epidemic Looms. The Cause? LibCon Government changes to Health Provision
Unnoticed, apart from among those who work in the area, a major change to the provision of sexual health treatment was sneaked in under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. This handed over responsibility for this function to Local Authorities and away from the NHS. Those Local Authorities do not have the skills or expertise to commission such services.
The consequences are already being felt. One London Borough is now refusing to provide treatment to people not resident within its borders. This treatment to non-residents, however is compulsory under the Act and as amended in 2015 and 2016.
Another clinic is facing threats from the Local Authority now charged with commissioning the service. The Authority has insisted on, what the lead clinician regards as unethical, changes to the service specification and cuts to the tariff (the amount paid per patient/treatment interlude) which will strip the clinic of £7 million per annum. Already STD clinics have been subjected to massive cuts, despite repeated denials from the former NHS commissioners. The local authorities concerned have threatened that unless the unit agrees to its demands it will put the function out to tender. Such services are exempt from the requirement to be tendered since they are “services to the person of no cross border interest”.
At present there is an epidemic of syphilis. This is probably the most severe form of sexually transmitted infection and most of us are pretty ignorant about it. Our young are about to become closely acquainted with this nasty debilitating disease. Screening for syphilis will be available only by going online and obtaining a home testing kit. Remember that, still, around 35% of the population have no internet access.
The symptoms of syphilis are transitory. The sufferer may not even notice the early signs but will remain infectious during the first and second stages. The disease can lie hidden for ten years and at that point the final stage of the disease begins to take effect. This is where the brain is affected. Treatment is not always effective at this stage.
HIV testing is another victim. HIV clinics are not going to be allowed to carry out the first-line testing. The powers that be have decided that is a “Public Health” issue and not an NHS one. The HIV clinics will have to refer patients to an STD clinic or the Emergency Department (Casualty).
The whole point of STD clinics is to create an environment where patients can feel secure and that their confidentiality is guaranteed. Indeed this confidentiality is mandated under the Health and Social Care Act. This commissioning policy will make that privacy impossible. This means less people will come forward for testing and less people will obtain the necessary early treatment. That early treatment is what prevents both of these conditions from being spread.
The Catastrophe Looming
I am not able to spell out the precise details of the units I refer to. To do so would identify my sources. I can assure you those sources are pre-eminent experts involved in the treatment of STDs and HIV. This carelessly created accident of mal-administration is going to result in untold harm and suffering and because of the sensitivity of the topic the matter is being discussed nowhere in the press and media. A major epidemic is upon us and the Government has pulled the rug from beneath the service that could prevent it.