United Kingdom: Sex Disease Clinics "Cannot Cope"
May 30, 2002
Hospital specialists are warning of an epidemic in STDs because of chronic under-funding of their clinics across the United Kingdom. Figures for some parts of the nation reveal a doubling in the time it takes to get an appointment for tests. Figures for the North West region alone show patients are now waiting around a month to get an appointment. That is twice as long in most clinics as it was six months ago.
The government has earmarked £47 million ($68.7 million) to fight STDs, but experts say their field needs an instant injection of £200 if it is going to stem the rise of STDs. They are particularly worried about a rise in chlamydia. It is estimated that nearly half of men and women have had the bacteria by the time they are 40, and cases have more than doubled over the past five years.
Untreated, chlamydia can cause infertility and increases the chance of an ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening risk to the mother and baby. "You lose a child, but you almost lose your own life as well," said Labor member of Parliament Jane Griffiths, who is campaigning for action. "Hundreds and hundreds of women go through the same thing every year," she said. The situation is not helped when clinics for STDs cannot cope with the sheer number of patients.
Dr. Colm O'Mahoney is the only consultant in the Chester unit and serves a population of 300,000. He should have two more consultants with him, but there isn't enough money to fund the posts. O'Mahoney said his case was by no means unusual, and that most other clinics were severely understaffed. Lack of help meant he had to turn people away from what are supposed to be open access clinics. "The longer somebody has [an STD], the worse the consequences are going to be, both in terms of long term damage, and the risk that they are going to spread it further," O'Mahoney said.
05.21.02; Matthew Hill
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.