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GPs to get standardised payments for chlamydia screening

By Christian Duffin

The Healthcare Protection Agency (HPA) may recommend a standardised system of payments to GPs for chlamydia screening amid concerns that the NHS is not getting value for money from the nationwide programme.

HPA analysts have conducted a costing review and are putting the finishing touches to a report outlining ‘model contract specifications' for chlamydia screening in GP practices and pharmacies.

This was revealed in a report by the public finances watchdog, the National Audit Office, which recently surveyed PCTs and found huge variations in amounts paid and the ways payments are calculated under local enhanced services schemes. One PCT paid GPs £5 per test until they had tested 17% of young people on their patient list, and £10 above this level, while another paid £6 per test initially and £9 once more than 10% of young people had been tested.

The NAO also concluded in the report that the NHS was misusing public money in the £150m national chlamydia programme because in 2008/9 only half of PCTs had tested 26 per cent of 16-24 year-olds, the minimum amount needed to reduce infection rates.

Edward Leigh, chair of the Commons' committee of public accounts, said: ‘By ploughing ahead with local fragmented implementation the programme has been inefficient and wasted public funds.'

'This is a classic example of what can go wrong when a national programme is rolled out unthinkingly in a locally managed NHS.'

Dr Sarah Gray, a GP in Truro, and primary care lead for women's health at Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT, said: ‘It would be a good idea to have a system of standardised payments, but it needs to be simple to administer.'

Chlamydia screening has not proved cost effective Chlamydia screening has not proved cost effective

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