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“Love Hurts,” suggested the BBC’s Panorama programme in October last year. The investigation focused on the rising rates of sexually transmitted infections in the UK and the crisis in access to genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics.1 It took as it’s starting point the centrality of sexual health in the 2004 Public Health White Paper for England, Choosing Health.2 The Government is committed to a major sexual health education programme starting in 2006 and major improvements in sexual health services. To monitor progress local health service organisations have been set targets, including one relating to patient access: by 2008, all patients should be offered an appointment within 48 hours of contacting a GUM clinic.
Poor access to sexual health services has been highlighted as one factor contributing to continued increases in sexually transmitted infections,3 and a number of surveys have found access to clinics have worsened over the past decade.4,5 Many clinics changed from walk-in to appointment-based services, and the expansion of demand has far …