FEARS of an increase in HIV infection rates in Derby if cuts proposed by the city council go ahead have been voiced.
Tory opposition councillor Roy Webb’s comments came after a letter opposing one of the cuts was sent to the authority by us, Leicestershire Aids Support Services.
The authority is proposing to cut £430,000 from the sexual health budget in the 2014-15 financial year. The mooted cut was included in its recent consultation on how it will find £9 million of savings on top of £20 million already found.
It says the move would involve “ending service contracts for specialist sexual health promotion services,” and renegotiating contracts for “sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy testing”.
The document adds that the council wants to “refocus free oral emergency contraception to under-18s available to pharmacy outlets only”. The city council was, on Friday, asked for more details but said it was unable to provide them.
But Mark Tittley, cabinet member for adults and health, said that, if the cuts went ahead, the council “would still continue to fulfil our statutory and moral duty to provide open access sexual health services to all within our community who need them, including people affected by HIV/Aids”.
Mr Webb, who is shadow cabinet member for health and adult care, said part of the cuts would hit Derbyshire Positive Support which gives confidential, stigma-free, support to people with HIV, and their families.
He said: “The withdrawal of contract funding for Derbyshire Positive Support may well, if it follows the national trend, increase infection rates as it has in areas where similar services have been decommissioned.”
A letter to the council from Leicestershire AIDS Support Services carries another warning.
It says: “Cuts will increase the likelihood of early death, and ill-health resulting in high levels of need for costly social care support and can be avoided by maintaining effective local services.”
Mr Webb added that, having met with a “public health official”, it was clear that any savings made in the budget were not going to be used to improve services elsewhere but “just used to support the council’s budget position”.
He said: “I think this a dangerous position to take as the on-going health and social care cost of failing to support these services could be much more expensive than keeping them.”
Mr Tittley said: “It is important to note that if these proposals are accepted by the council, we will still continue to fulfil our statutory and moral duty to provide open access sexual health services to all within our community who need them, including people affected by HIV/Aids.”
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