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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Six months in, how is it going?

The Government's national sexual health strategy risks floundering because GPs lack the time or the training to take on work from GUM clinics.

Plans for general practice to manage a greater proportion of sexual health patients were 'highly problematic', according to a new study of GPs' views.

GPs feared 'opening a can of worms' by bringing up sexual problems during consultations and were uncomfortable discussing sexual health with patients of different gender, sexuality or race.

Lead author Dr Merryn Gott, lecturer at the Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing at the University of Sheffield, called for practical strategies to help primary care implement the National Sexual Health Strategy.

'At the moment it is all rhetoric,' she said. 'It's unrealistic to expect GPs to take it on with everything else they have to do.'

Dr Gott added GPs were

often uncomfortable about bringing up sexual issues with older patients or those from ethnic minorities and needed better communication training.

The study, which involved semi-structured interviews with 22 GPs and 35 practice nurses from practices around Sheffield, was published in Family Practice (October).

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