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'Excluding GPs will jeopardise chlamydia screening success'

A key Government adviser on sexual health has criticised ministers for excluding GPs from the national roll-out of chlamydia screening.

The decision 'jeopardises' the success of screening, claims Dr Mike Catchpole, deputy director of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre and head of the Public Health Laboratory Service chlamydia programme.

He blamed cost for the decision to exclude GPs from the first phase of the national programme, launched in 10 areas last month.

Two Government-funded pilot studies in the Wirral and Portsmouth, led by Dr Catchpole and published in Sexually Transmitted Infections (February), found opportunistic urine screening by GPs was practical and acceptable. The pilots revealed 'substantial' prevalence of chlamydia outside genitourinary clinics.

Dr Catchpole said GPs were grappling with the demands of national service frameworks and there was a danger they would neglect sexual health care. 'Where people are stretched, second-order priorities become things that don't happen,' he told Pulse.

He said omitting GPs meant the screening programme would miss the groups identified as being at highest risk by the Chief Medical Officer's

expert advisory group.

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