Wigan’s older generations on the dating scene should be alert to the risks of sexually transmitted infections as much as their younger counterparts, health bosses have warned.
The advice comes as the borough’s sexual health services are due to undergo major reforms.
Public health experts are hoping to better tailor the system to the borough’s needs and found a worrying rise of cases in over-50s.
Prof Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health, said it was crucial the message “sexual health is a life-long thing” is heard.
She told the Wigan Post: “We’ve seen that, yes, we do have issues with the 16 to 24 year old group. But we’ve also seen a trend in the mid-50s age group.
“Perhaps it’s people coming out of relationships and going back on the dating scene, I don’t think they are thinking of their sexual health, necessarily, and they should be. So we’re seeing a spike. “Sexual health is for all ages, not just something for the younger generation to think about.”
A consultation on the second stage of the borough’s shake-up for services is now underway with residents urged to give their feedback on the plans. It includes proposals to give patients more online services - for medical consultations or booking appointments - for example.
Residents will also be given more access to home-testing kits for STIs to offer more privacy.
These innovations are hoped to compliment the more traditional service features through GPs, consultants, pharmacies and central clinics, the public health team has said.
The reforms are set against a backdrop of budget cuts, with town hall officials tasked with slicing 20 per cent from the sexual health service budget - from £3m to £2.4m - this year.
But Prof Ardern is confident, despite the efficiencies, the overall service can be improved.
Prof Ardern added: “These reforms will hopefully take the stigma out of sexual health and promote healthy relationships by taking the embarrassment factor out of it.
“We’re actually very excited by the proposals.”
To take part in the consultation, or for more information about public events, visit https://wigan.gov.uk/Council/Consultations/Consultations.aspx