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GP screening pay urged for chlamydia

GPs should be paid to carry out chlamydia screening, suggests a NICE review, which found little or no evidence that opportunistic screening is effective, writes Joanna Clarke-Jones.

GPs should be paid to carry out chlamydia screening, suggests a NICE review, which found little or no evidence that opportunistic screening is effective, writes Joanna Clarke-Jones.

Currently, fewer than half of young people under 25 years old attending GP surgeries are screened for chlamydia, because not all those who are eligible are offered a test, the review found.

But evidence suggests providing financial incentives to carry out screening in primary care could increase uptake.

The review of 90 studies also found that many GPs were not convinced about the benefits of a screening programme or did not think their patients were at high risk of infection.

However. screening uptake was higher in GPs' surgeries, compared with other settings such as youth clinics, schools and outreach settings.

The national chlamydia screening programme, due to be rolled out this month, involves only opportunistic testing.

Professor Chris Salisbury, a GP and professor in primary care at the University of Bristol, said: 'This ought to be a normal part of what GPs do and giving them an incentive will enable them to do more, as it's not just screening, it's partner notification etc.'

He said a University of Bristol study earlier this year had found a combination of opportunistic and postal screening was most effective, as neither would catch everybody.

Dr Sally Whittet, a south London GP with a special interest in sexual health, said many GPs in Lambeth were involved with the programme, even though it was not an enhanced service.

She said: 'You can always change GP behaviour with money, but dealing with sexual health in general is an integral part of our jobs.' But many doctors, particularly males, did not see it like that, she said.

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