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Errors in data input will cost, says GP

Government advisers are demanding the addition of sexual health care to the quality framework, claiming financial incentives are the only way to improve GPs' patchy performance.

Their report also urged ministers to bring forward nationwide rollout of chlamydia screening ­ a central plank of the sexual health strategy ­ from 2006 to 2008 and criticised the failure to pay GPs for their role in the programme.

The Independent Advisory Group for Sexual Health and HIV said it was 'extremely disappointed' there were only two quality points available across the whole of sexual health.

Dr William Ford-Young, a member of the group and RCGP spokesman on sex, drugs and HIV, said he had received no indication from the GPC that sexual health would be allocated points in the review of the quality and outcomes framework in 2006.

GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'We haven't got that far at this stage. A lot will depend on what the evidence is and what resources are available.'

The report also stressed that chlaymdia screening should be implemented nationally within the next two years and urged PCTs to press ahead without waiting for a national rollout.

Dr Ford-Young accused the Government of 'dragging its feet' over screening and only fast-tracking projects when it was politically expedient.

He said the RCGP had pressed the Government on providing funding to make chlamydia screening an enhanced service and that

ministers were 'taking it seriously'.

The report came as new Health Protection Agency research found GPs were becoming increasingly involved in screening despite the lack of financial incentives.

More than 10 per cent of chlamydia tests took place in general practice and the figure was rising, according to research in this month's Sexually Transmitted Infections.

GPs carried out around 1,600 tests in the programme's first year within 53 pilot PCTs, with 10.1 per cent of women and 13.3 per cent of men testing positive.

Dr Jenny Hopwood, who oversaw one of the first screening pilots in Wirral, criticised Government targets for excluding women over 25 and most men.

'People in those categories are left to be dealt with by the person who tests and risk being managed in a different way', she said.

Chlamydia update ­ three new studies

·Study one: in the first year of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme there were 16,413 tests carried out in 53 PCTs, 10 per cent of them in general practices

·Study two: 7.1 per cent of patients in GP clinics and 12.7 per cent in GUM clinics tested positive, compared to a prevalence of 1.6 per cent in the general population

·Study three: a community 'screen and treat' programme for men under 35 could be cost-effective, with 5.9 per cent of men in the age group testing positive

Source: Sexually Transmitted Infections

By Rob Finch

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