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CAMHS won't see you now

GP chlamydia screening is the last straw

Government plans to involve GPs in opportunistic screening for chlamydia would be the 'straw that breaks the camel's back', according to

a Health Protection Agency survey.

The Department of Health last month invited GPs to bid for chlamydia screening services in the second phase of the roll-out of its national

programme.

But GPs from Avon, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire who were asked for their views said they feared they would be hampered by lack of time and resources.

The Government requires GPs to offer screening for the same cost as other providers such as genitourinary clinics. GPs were omitted from the first eight screening sites, announced last year, due to funding restrictions.

The HPA survey, due to be presented at its inaugural conference next month, revealed GPs thought the greatest barriers to screening were a lack of time and knowledge of the benefits of the tests and confusion over when and how to take specimens.

One GP said: 'I would want to see clear evidence that it is justified, bearing in mind the overall cost restraints to the NHS.'

Another said the introduction of testing of asymptomatic women would be the 'straw that breaks the camel's back' for time-pushed GPs.

Dr Miriam Santer, a GP in Edinburgh who helped draw up SIGN guidelines on chlamydia screening, said

research she carried out in her area showed screening was

feasible but would mean a lot of work for GPs.

'It's five minutes of explanation ­ often to people who have never heard of chlamydia before. We need recognition of the time it takes through remuneration. To think it could be put into practice without this is not doing it justice,' she said.

Meanwhile, Family Planning Association chief executive Anne Weyman strongly backed opportunistic screening for chlamydia at last week's launch of the association's sexual health week.

She said it was a 'must' for women under the age of 25.

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