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Sexual Health Policy

Volume 556: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2013

We plan to publish our policy document on sexual health and HIV shortly. Improving sexual health is very important for individuals and communities.

Can the Minister explain why the sexual health policy has been delayed for almost two years? Does he accept that this delay is affecting the ability of PCTs to deliver effective sexual health services?

From April, local authorities will be responsible for commissioning services. Because we have seen this really impressive increase in funding for public health, local authorities will have the ability to maintain and indeed improve sexual health services for their local communities. That is something of which we should be proud.

On the sexual health strategy, the Minister will be aware that nearly half of the national incidence of HIV is in London, so what steps will be taken from April to co-ordinate the prevention of HIV London-wide?

I am very much aware of the situation in London, and I acknowledge that some good work has already been undertaken there. Local authorities are very much aware of their responsibility that will apply from April and are already working with clinical commissioning groups in London to ensure that comprehensive services are in place for the London community.

Pan-London preventive health care is important, but with the devolution of funding to local authorities, there is a great risk of them refusing to pool funds and of preventive health programmes in London collapsing. Can the Minister reassure Londoners that pan-London programmes will continue?

Yes, I can absolutely reassure the hon. Gentleman that there will be comprehensive services, which will cut across local authorities. We have to remember that local authorities will be under a legal responsibility to provide confidential open access to sexual health services and contraception services. Local authorities in London are aware of the need to ensure that comprehensive services are available from April this year.