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LARC use aligned with NICE

GPC negotiators and NHS Employers have moved to align the sexual health indicators in the QOF with NICE guidance on the provision of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) to women of child-bearing age.

Three new indicators will offer GPs a total of 10 points: four points for having a register of women on contraception; three points for offering information about LARCs to women on other forms of contraception; and three points for providing LARCs information within a month to women prescribed emergency contraception.

NICE recommended in 2005 that all women requiring contraception should be offered a choice of all methods of contraception, including LARCs.

Experts believe that in addition to being more cost-effective than other forms of contraception, the widespread use of LARCs would reduce the UK's soaring rate of teenage and unintended pregnancies.

But the uptake and implementation of the guidance since 2005 has been poor, which GPs blamed on the scarcity of places on Faculty of Family Planning training courses.

Dr Richard Ma, a GP in Islington, north London and a member of the QOF expert consensus panel, said infrastructure needed to be put in place to allow the demand for LARCs to be met.

‘NICE guidance was published in October 2005, and we are trying to implement the guidance within the QOF.

‘Capacity is still fairly low – I hope this encourages GPs to do the training but there's a lot of work to do. Now that it's in the GP contract there will be a lot of interest in the training and it's up to the PCTs to make sure that capacity is there to train GPs – and have the resources to pay them for it.'

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