DoH is failing to deliver on chlamydia screening plan

The DoH has failed to control chlamydia through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme, according to a report from the Public Accounts Committee.

Edward Leigh (Conservative, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire) MP, chairman of the committee described the programme as a 'classic example of what can happen when the responsibility for delivering a national initiative is pushed down to local level'.

Five years into the voluntary testing programme, 5 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds had been screened against a target of 15 per cent.

In 2008, the DoH required PCTs to test 17 per cent of their 15- to 24-year-old population, boosting coverage to 16 per cent.

South London GP Dr Pippa Oakeshott said the success of the programme needed to be considered within the limitations associated with the target population.

She added: 'Many high-risk young people, such as sexually active younger teenagers, those with chaotic lifestyles and some ethnic minorities are often hard to reach.

'In addition, relatively few young men have been screened for chlamydia as they tend to seek healthcare less frequently than women.'

Dr Oakeshott added that general practices are increasingly screening under-25s for chlamydia but added that it would help to have screening included in the QOF.

Launched by the DoH in 2003, and overseen by the Health Protection Agency, the programme has spent an estimated £100 million on screening high-risk, sexually active under-25s.

The report follows a National Audit Office report issued last November which also concluded that the chlamydia screening programme had not demonstrated value for money.

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