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What is the future for sexual and contraceptive services?
  1. Su Everett
  1. Correspondence to Su Everett, Middlesex University, Hendon Campus, London, UK; s.everett{at}mdx.ac.uk

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Background

It is always difficult to write about something you are passionate about objectively, and sexual health is one such subject for me. So, the following is my personal view on the massive changes taking place within sexual health. I do this from a standpoint of having worked in sexual health both as a clinician and a lecturer since 1985 and 1998, respectively, but also as someone who has worked as a practice nurse for 8 years.

There is a nervous edge around sexual health currently, as sexual health services within London are fighting for contracts. This has meant that sexual health services are competing against each other, whereas usually there are close links between sexual health services as staff move between services. If a service wins the contract then their future is assured for the time being. However, if they lose, then their service is unlikely to survive and will only continue in the current format until July 2017, and there will inevitably be job losses. Currently sexual health services that  have lost contracts are unable to give information to patients about the future of their service. Already nurses within these departments are leaving sexual health services as they are worried that they might not have a job come July. The loss of expertise will be sorely missed; the specialist skills of health professionals working this area involve identifying and caring for those at risk of grooming, sexual abuse, sexual assault and sex work. It is a special person who works in this area and sensitively listens to, and supports, the men and women who access these services.

Since 2013 Local Authorities have provided contraceptive service funding, but with significant government cutbacks …

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