Published: 03/02/2005, Volume II4, No. 5941 Page 8

Sexual health services risk a 'state of collapse' if the government does not dramatically increase capacity in sexual health clinics, MPs were told last week.

Experts told the Commons health select committee that although some progress had been made in tackling the increasing incidence of sexually transmitted infections in England, access in many areas of the country was 'patchy'.

Professor George Kinghorn, clinical director for communicable diseases at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals foundation trust, warned that current services could not be maintained without extra funding and increased capacity.

The consultant in genito-urinary medicine said he was pleased that the government had used the public health white paper to prioritise sexual health and promised strong performance management to back the 48-hour access target for 2008.

But he warned that there was a 'real concern' among sexual health service providers across England 'that a new national education campaign [proposed by the government] will be undertaken before there has been satisfactory planning of the service consequences of this further stimulus to patient demand'.

Professor Kinghorn told MPs that the NHS needed to plan for a 30-50 per cent increase in patients accessing GUM services before 2008, otherwise the service risked a 'state of collapse'.