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NICE urges GPs to talk to teenagers more about sex

GPs should probe the sex lives of young patients during 15- to 20-minute counselling sessions, according to draft NICE guidance on prevention of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies in under-18s.

Dr Richard Ma, a GP in Islington, north London, who was involved in drafting the guidance, admitted it would be 'unrealistic' for most GPs to find time for longer consultations.

But Dr Ma, a member of the RCGP's sex, drugs and HIV task group, added: 'The recommendations can only be based on evidence, and that points towards longer consultations of 15 to 20 minutes minimum.

'It may have been more helpful to point out where GPs will fit in. We may well have to incorporate the services of youth clinics, family planning clinics, GUM clinics, practice nurses, even receptionists.'

Dr Carrie Sadler, a GP who also works in the contraception and sexual health service in Derby, said the draft needed to be more specific. 'It sounds like a good idea, and it will improve outcomes in sexual health, but where will the extra funding and resources come from?'

Dr Sadler said the recommendations 'could be equally well done by sexual health practitioners in other designations'.

A spokesperson for NICE said it hoped GPs would find the recommendations 'feasible'.

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