16th November, 2015

Cuts to public health spending will have a devastating effect on sexual health and contraceptive services, and result in far higher costs.

This false economy of ‘savings’ has been highlighted explicitly in Unprotected Nation 2015, a report commissioned by sexual health charity FPA, which considers the knock-on effects of a hypothetical 10% cut in spending.

Key findings

A 10% reduced spending scenario could result in:

  • an additional £8.3 billion spending on the outcomes of unintended pregnancies (both direct health costs and non-health associated costs, for example education) over the next five years
  • an extra 72,299 sexually transmitted infection diagnoses by 2020, at a cost of £363 million. This includes almost 20,000 additional cases of gonorrhoea, at a time when fears about antibiotic resistance of the bacterial infection are being realised.

Based only on the in-year £200 million cut to public health spending that local authorities will implement in January 2016, if it becomes the norm over the next five years, every £1 considered a saving in sexual and reproductive health could actually cost £86.

It is not yet known how public health will fare in the spending review, due to be announced next week on 25 November.

FPA Chief Executive, Natika H Halil, said: “This report clearly shows that making cuts to sexual and reproductive health funding results in enormous costs further down the line and is incredibly short-sighted.

“Given we have already seen Defra and DCLG announce 30% savings as part of this spending review, our reduced access scenario of 10%, which in itself indicates there would be massive additional costs, may actually prove to be conservative.

“We have already seen evidence of service restrictions and the potential effect of further cuts is frankly terrifying.

"This report must serve as a stark warning to the Government ahead of announcing its spending review later this month.”

Dr Anne Connolly, GP and Chair of the Primary Care Women’s Forum, said reduced spending risked dismantling a decade of hard work to improve access to contraceptive services and the quality of trained health care workers providing all methods of contraception.

“Making cuts to contraceptive services not only makes bad economic sense,” she said.

“It compromises the health and wellbeing of those who are already the most vulnerable.”

View the full report, executive summary and infographics.


Notes to editor

For media queries please contact Hannah Upton on 0207 608 5265 or email press@fpa.org.uk

The development of Unprotected Nation 2015 was fully funded by a grant from MSD. MSD has not had editorial input or control over the contents of the report. FPA has retained complete editorial control.

Unprotected Nation 2015 is an update to the 2013 report, Unprotected Nation – The Financial and Economic Impacts of Restricted Contraceptive and Sexual Health Services. The 2013 report was produced on behalf of FPA and Brook as part of their XES – We Can’t Go Backwards campaign and was funded by and developed in partnership with Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare (UK) Ltd.

Unprotected Nation 2015 was produced by Development Economics Limited on behalf of FPA. It was verified with independent assurance of the social return on investment calculations by Oxford Economics.