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GP boycott hits chlamydia screening programme

Chlamydia screening has stagnated in the fourth year of the controversial programme, amid calls from some LMCs to boycott testing unless GPs are reimbursed for the work.

Only 15% of GP surgeries offered the service in 2006/7, up just 1% over two years and far below where the programme needs to be in order to achieve target uptake.

The failure of the National Chlamydia Screening Program-me to win round GPs will come as a blow to the Department of Health, which last week announced a major new drive to target testing at men.

GPs in areas including North-umberland, Norfolk and Tower Hamlets in east London are refusing to undertake screenings without funding.

Dr Simon Lockett, secretary of Norfolk LMC, said his Norwich practice had refused to do opportunistic screens without a LES, adding blindly accepting screenings sent the wrong message to PCTs. ‘Many practices are saying more work was expected of them than they were led to believe.'

Dr Mary Macintosh, director of the national programme, said GPs remained a ‘key challenge' and admitted that 15% of practices doing screening was ‘not going to be adequate'.

The department wants GPs and other health professionals to specifically target men aged between 16 and 25.

But Dr William Ford-Young, a GP in Macclesfield and member of the Government's independent advisory group for sexual health, said GPs should be compensated. ‘I'd want £30 if I'm expected to spend 10-minute consultations solely on chlamydia.'

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