The NHS has been criticised after it was revealed that a large proportion of the money set aside for sexual health services is not getting to where it is needed.
A survey undertaken by the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) on sexual health and HIV discovered that much of the £300 million was instead going towards covering debts incurred by the health service.
The revelation comes at a time when sexual health is deteriorating, with the instances of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) rising by three per cent to 790,387 between 2004 and 2005.
Syphilis cases saw the biggest increase – up 23 per cent during the period, while other STIs including Chlamydia and herpes also increased.
Despite the government promising to make sexual health in the UK a priority in the coming year, the IAG study revealed that the funding set aside reached just 30 of the 191 primary care trusts intended.
Baroness Gould, the chair of the IAG, said: "Better sexual health services bring benefits for patients as well as delivering cost savings for the NHS by reducing the number of STIs and unwanted pregnancies."
However, she said that "difficult financial circumstances" were hindering patients' sexual health care.
The Department of Health maintains that the allocation of the sexual health funding is up to the PCTs to decide.
But Dr Mike Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, said: "I fear that some PCTs are using the money for deficits. And there may be a bit of creative accounting when assessing priorities."