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Chlamydia screening stalls

The National Chlamydia Screening Programme is struggling to build uptake to the levels required to combat infection rates and has been criticised for continuing to rely on the goodwill of GPs.

Health Protection Agency figures obtained by Pulse show GPs have increased overall screening rates by 10% in rollout areas, but with sharp differences in performance depending on local policies for their involvement.In some areas, such as Bedfordshire and Luton where incentives of £3 per screen are offered, uptake has doubled in the space of two years.

But in others, such as Norfolk and East Kent, rates fell sharply last year by up to 40%, amid fears GPs were becoming disengaged from the programme.

A separate Pulse survey of 44 PCTs found 30% still had no measures for chlamydia screening in place and only 20% were offering GPs any financial reimbursements.

The lack of GP funding appears to threaten the aim of hitting 50% uptake of chlamydia screening in target groups.

The RCGP, in evidence to the review of the quality and outcomes framework obtained by Pulse, has demanded GP chlamydia screening be funded through the QOF.

Dr William Ford-Young, RCGP sexual health spokesperson and a GP in Macclesfield, said he expected overall screening uptake to increase, but that some PCTs were failing to support GPs. 'In some areas there may be a decrease, which may be an indication of PCTs failing to provide the support they promised.'

He added: 'GPs should be rewarded if they are going to participate.'

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