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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs are set to boycott new sexual health role

GPs will be expected to

provide chlamydia testing for men as well as women under the Government's sexual health strategy, according to latest guidance issued to PCTs.

The guidance shunts responsibility for all current and future non-invasive tests for sexually transmitted infections, including a new HIV test, on to GPs in a bid to increase primary care participation in sexual health.

A Department of Health spokesman said: 'STI tests will not get a specific fee because they are covered by GMS.'

GPs said they would refuse to carry out testing without resources to provide counselling and adequate support to patients.

The Government's strategy splits sexual health services into three levels.

From this April, all GP surgeries must be able to provide 'level one' services ­ HIV testing and counselling, STI testing for women, contraceptive services and assessment ­ to patients requesting them.

GPs must now 'extend the elements that can be grouped into level one' to include chlamydia testing for men and non-invasive STI tests, the guidance said.

Levels two and three cover GP specialists and secondary care.

The GPC said the Government could not expect to heap more work on GPs without extra funding. Dr Hamish Meldrum, joint-deputy chair of the GPC, said: 'Non-invasive testing is not something that's routinely being done at present and that would have to be resourced. We've got past the stage where general practice will be taking on unresourced work.'

Dr Chris Ford, a member of the Government's sexual health strategy steering group, anticipated an 'enormous' increase in work.

Dr Ford, chair of the RCGP sex, drugs and HIV task group and a GP in Kilburn, north-west London, said: 'It would be an enormous amount of extra work for primary care, but it didn't say there was going to be any money for it.'

Dr Ian Dumbelton, chair of Cambridgeshire LMC, said that the strategy was 'doomed to fail' without additional


'We just can't physically do it ­ we're at capacity with regard to all the other services at the moment. Without the resources to provide counselling and adequate support I would just not do it,' he added.

Tell us what you think

Would you provide chlamydia tests for men and women or refer them to a GUM clinic?

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New guidance on the Government's sexual health strategy expects GPs to test men for chlamydia too ­ by Rob Gough

Sexual health services all GP practices

must provide patients from April

 · Chlamydia testing for men and women

 · New non-invasive tests for sexually transmitted infections (eg HIV) and counselling for men

and women

 · Contraceptive information and services

(opt-out in new contract available)

 · Sexual history taking and risk assessment

 · Pregnancy testing and referral

 · Assessment and referral of men with STI symptoms

 · STI testing for women

 · Cervical cytology screening and referral

 · Hepatitis B immunisation

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