WHITE PAPER Report demands extra cash reaches the front line

Published: 01/12/2005 Volume 115 No. 5984 Page 8

Sexual health services need to be radically overhauled because services in many areas are years out of date, a hard-hitting report says.

A joint submission to the Department of Health from the NHS Confederation and charity the Terrence Higgins Trust suggests a series of changes for inclusion to the forthcoming white paper on healthcare outside hospitals.

'In many areas the basic model of service has changed little over many years, even though needs have changed and increased markedly, ' the report states.

NHS Confederation policy manager Jo Webber told HSJ that primary care trusts must keep sexual health services 'in their minds' despite the fact that 'everything else is moving around'.

She warned PCTs against losing the partnerships they had built with local authorities on sexual health and added that there was still a lot of work needed to ensure that sexual health services were 'locally responsive to local needs'.

The report says that it is imperative that the 'extra£250m funding announced by the DoH for PCTs to help achieve improvements in sexual health is fully utilised'.

Terrence Higgins Trust deputy chief executive Paul Ward said the extra cash 'must get to the front line'.

He called on the government to introduce a sexual health policy that would 'expand capacity and redesign services as well as establishing community-based and communityled services'.

To meet public service agreements and local delivery plan targets, both organisations call for much greater development in community health and care services.

They also want to see policy introduced in three key areas: strengthened sexual health promotion; improved access to sexually transmitted infection, contraception and abortion services; and better management of HIV.

BMA calls for neighbourhood diagnostics

Neighbourhood centres where patients can access diagnostics, outreach services and social services as well as GPs is a key proposal contained in the British Medical Association's submission on the healthcare outside hospitals white paper.

The centres would also provide patients with extra clinical services and information on how to manage long-term conditions.

The BMA wants to see hospital doctors and public health professionals involved in practice-based commissioning. But it warns that 'to be most effective, many specialist services will have to remain in the hospital setting'.

The association also warns that if private sector provision is increased there should be a 'level playing field' with existing providers.