Tag Archives: Jeremy Hunt

Dear Jeremy Hunt, please #StopHIVCuts

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#StopHIVCuts have written to Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt calling for a meeting to discuss the impact of significantly reduced funding for HIV support services.

Read about the #StopHIVCuts campaign here.

Dear Secretary of State

We are writing to you as a group of HIV and sexual health organisations and people with HIV to share our increasing concern at the trend by local authorities across England to decommission HIV support services.

Coping with an HIV diagnosis and living with HIV long-term can be stressful and challenging, with personal relationships, long-term health, employment and finances all being significantly affected. HIV support services are an integral part of helping people deal with changes brought on by a condition that still carries with it much stigma and affects some of the most vulnerable and excluded people in our society.  They also prevent further HIV transmission by supporting people with HIV in safer sex and adherence to medication.

With over 103,000 people in the UK living with HIV in 2014, HIV support services are needed more than ever. Evidence suggests more than a third of people with diagnosed HIV need to access these vital services in any 12-month period. They are widely agreed to be an essential element in the HIV care pathway, supporting long-term condition management, by (for example) NHS, England and BHIVA.

2015, however, saw a worrying trend of local authorities across the country defunding totally HIV support services. In Oxfordshire, Bromley, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Slough, Bracknell Forest and Bexley, the local councils are set to scrap this essential provision. We understand more councils may follow – either defunding completely or cutting funding to the point where meaningful provision is impossible.

Many of the organisations affected by these cuts also provide HIV prevention for individuals at the highest risk of HIV – vital interventions that will ultimately prevent new HIV infections and save the NHS much needed cash in HIV treatment costs. The estimated cost of lifetime HIV treatment is up to £360,000 per person.  The future of such preventive work is also put in jeopardy by this disinvestment.

These funding cuts are short-sighted and ill-thought through as they will ultimately lead to extra cost pressures on health and social care as people with HIV fall into acute need and crisis, as well as significant costs to the NHS from an increase in onward HIV transmission.

Whilst of course these cuts are being made by local authorities, we strongly believe you can and should influence these decisions. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 left HIV support services without a clear commissioning home, and therefore especially vulnerable to defunding.  As a result, we risk the loss of community-based services which have been a mainstay of our HIV response since the early days of the epidemic and of which we should be very proud. A clear statement from the Government on the importance of these services and action to bring stakeholders together and agree a sustainable basis for their commissioning and provision are urgently needed.

We are asking for a meeting as soon as possible with you to discuss how we can together provide a health and social care system that works for the needs of people living with HIV.

Please correspond with Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT

[Letter Ends – Signed by #StopHIVCuts]

Support people with HIV: Stop the cuts’ is also appealing to members of the public to take an e-action to show their support – write to their local council leader and ask what the council is doing to support local people living with HIV.  You can do this right now by clicking here: http://act.lifewithhiv.org.uk/lobby/stopcuts.

Will you  offer your support?

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HIV & sexual health sector unites in action against government cuts as budgets are slashed by councils #StopHIVCuts

Funding for HIV services across the UK are at risk.  Today we joined almost 30 other HIV charities to call for HIV services to be protected.  We have written to Secretary of State of Health Mr Jeremy Hunt to help protect HIV services.  Read on to find out how local HIV services are at risk.

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HIV charities from Liverpool (Sahir Trust) to Leicestershire (LASS) to London have come together with health professional bodies, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), and British HIV Association to launch a new national campaign opposing cuts to HIV services across the country -‘Support people with HIV: Stop the cuts’.

Jeremy_Hunt_OfficialIncreasing numbers of local authorities are pulling funding from HIV support services.
The campaign has written to Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt calling for a meeting to discuss the impact of these cuts, demand effective commissioning, adequate funding, and access to support services for all people living with HIV.

HIV services in both Berkshire and Oxfordshire, run by Thames Valley Support and Terrence Higgins Trust respectively, have been cut by over £100,000 between them. In Berkshire this equates to a loss of a third of funding, and will directly affect 300 people living with HIV in both Slough and Bracknell.

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In David Cameron’s back yard, Oxfordshire County Council has cut Terrence Higgins Trust’s £50,000 funding, which is forcing the closure of its local centre. The reality is that there are will be no HIV Prevention and Support service in the whole county after April 2016, with almost 500 people left with no alternative support service.

In Portsmouth the HIV support service, provided by Positive Action, has been cut by approximately £26,000 by Portsmouth City Council. Its Hampshire service has been granted an interim support payment of £30,000, less than half of the amount it historically received.

In Bexley and Bromley, equality and diversity charity, METRO is facing cuts to HIV support services of over £80,000.

Public Heath England’s national HIV figures show that in 2014 alone over 6,000 people were diagnosed with HIV, while People Living with HIV Stigma Index UK– found that stigma had prevented 15 per cent of people surveyed from accessing their GP in the last year, and 66 per cent had avoided dental care.

14 per cent had received negative comments from healthcare workers. Despite the obvious roles specialist HIV support services play in combatting this they are being reduced to almost ineffective levels, or cut completely, in a short term cash save measure.

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Alex Sparrowhawk, Involvement Officer Terrence Higgins Trust said:

“At a time when rates of HIV are increasing, stigma is as apparent as ever, we are seeing the start of an alarming trend of local authorities across the country scrapping HIV services.

“As a person living with HIV, I can tell you that HIV support services are vital to dealing with your diagnosis and managing this health condition. The national campaign is about sounding the alarm to policy makers, councils, and the public – these essential services are under serious threat and we need your help.”

Yusef Azad, Director of Strategy National Aids Trust:

“HIV remains a stigmatised and misunderstood condition. It’s not the same as other health issues where people can rely of support and sympathy from friends and colleagues.

“HIV support services can be the only place where people are open about their status, the only places they can find advice and support, the only place they can talk to other people with HIV.

“They are an essential component of the long-term care of people with HIV. To remove them would leave a lot of vulnerable people stranded.”

Dr Greg Ussher, METRO Charity CEO, said:

“People living with HIV can be some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“Proposed cuts of up to 100 per cent to HIV support services will decimate vital provision for people that cannot speak out against their local authority’s plans for fear of the stigma publicly disclosing their HIV status might bring.”

The Treasury last year announced it was cutting public health budgets in-year by £200 million with reductions in the funding for public health set to continue this year. The feasibility of the Chancellor’s plan to allow local authorities to income generate to fund social care services will be tested in poorer areas of the country – those areas that also see the highest rates of HIV.

Support people with HIV: Stop the cuts’ is also appealing to members of the public to take an e-action to show their support – write to their local council leader and ask what the council is doing to support local people living with HIV.  You can do this right now by clicking here: http://act.lifewithhiv.org.uk/lobby/stopcuts.

More information will be available on this blog and our website soon.

Will you  offer your support?

 

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