A British Medical Association (BMA) report has criticised Lambeth Council for cutting sexual health funding, but the council says it has increased expenditure.

In the recent report, the BMA said “particularly concerning” changes to public health spending in local areas did not reflect the needs of local populations, including sexual health.

But a spokesperson for Lambeth Council told the Pharmaceutical Journal the report’s concerns did not take into account changes to the way the borough spends its money, with more general funding for sexual health services increasing by over £1 million.

The council spokesperson said: “While the council’s budget for sexual health promotion, prevention and advice had decreased from £3.3m in 2016/2017 to £0.5m in 2017/2018, the borough’s overall budget for its portfolio of sexual health services had increased from £8.9m in 2016/2017 to £10.8m in 2017/2018.

“The figures contained in the report do not reflect the reality of sexual health services provision in Lambeth. In fact, spending has risen by more than 20 per cent.”

Many areas with poor health outcomes were seeing substantial cuts to key services,  according to the report, which specifically mentioned Lambeth Council’s funding for sexual health.

“Budget reductions are leading to unacceptable variation in the quality and quantity of services available to the public,” the report read.

“This is likely to have a detrimental impact on population health, increase future demand for treatment services, and risks widening health inequalities.”

“Lambeth Council has, however, cut funding for sexual health promotion, prevention and advice by over 85 per cent between 2016/17 and 2017/18.

“There have also been recent changes in the provision of sexual health services across Lambeth and Southwark, with three out of six clinics closing and more services being delivered online.”

Overall, local authority budgets for sexual health services reduced by £30 million between 2016/17 and 2017/18, a 5 per cent cut, according to the report.

While new diagnoses of STIs in England fell by 4.8 per cent, there have been significant increases in diagnoses for certain diseases, included a 12 per cent increase in syphilis – the largest number of diagnoses since 1945,  according to the report.

Lambeth had the highest levels of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in England in 2016.