Big drop in sexual health calls during pandemic

Fewer people in South Tyneside used the area’s sexual health services during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures suggest.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 3:54 pm
Sexual health service numbers drop

NHS Digital figures show around 3,810 people approached sexual and reproductive health services in South Tyneside between April 2020 and March – down from 5,100 the year before.

Clinics in the area dealt with 8,635 contacts overall – with some people using the services more than once.

The figures also show clinics in the area provided 95 emergency contraceptives in 2020-21 – down from 175 the year before.

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The figures show that just 50% of consultations at clinics in South Tyneside were face-to-face, compared to 98% the year before.

Experts say widespread disruption to the NHS and changes in people’s behaviour may have contributed to a significant drop in people contacting sexual health clinics nationally during the pandemic.

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV said young people living at home during lockdowns may have been particularly reluctant to access services.

A spokesperson said: "It is likely that people may not have felt able to have a private telephone call to discuss their needs with the clinic, may not have wanted to discuss with their parents why they were needing to leave the house and not felt comfortable receiving treatment or postal kits to their home address."

A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said sexual and reproductive health services had remained open throughout the coronavirus pandemic, often adapting by scaling up their online services.

He added: “The Government has required local authorities in England to commission comprehensive, accessible sexual health services.”