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GUM clinics missing target

Half of patients are still not seen in sexual health clinics within the 48-hour target, new figures from the Health Protection Agency show.

GPs complained they were having to take on an increasing burden of sexual health care because of the poor access to genitourinary clinics.

The Department of Health insisted new funding for sexual health would 'kick in' shortly. But only 51 per cent of individuals managed to get an appointment at a GUM clinic within 48 hours in February 2006, although this was a slight improvement from 45 per cent in May 2005.

Waiting times in London were better than other parts of England with 68 per cent of patients seen within 48 hours, compared with only 35 per cent in the West Midlands.

The figures fall a long way short of the standards set by the 2004 Choosing Health White Paper, which said all patients should be able to have an appointment within 48 hours.

Dr Martyn Walling, a GP in Boston, Lincolnshire, with a special interest in sexual health, said: 'It's heading for crisis in my area, it's a couple of weeks' wait for an appointment.

'It's all down to lack of funding for sexual health services ­ it's an easy one to save money on. We've been trying for years to get sexual health in our

PMS contract but there isn't the money to get it off the ground.'

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