'Give GPs sexual health training in their practices'

Providing sexual health training in GPs' own practices could revive services that are 'stretched to the limit', believes a GP interested in women's health.

Practical education for contraception services is underfunded and training can be seen as a hindrance to meeting service targets, she has argued.

Writing in the February issue of GP's sister publication MIMS Women's Health, Cornwall GP Dr Sarah Gray said that training primary care clinicians in their own practices could help solve the problems.

Such a move would require planning and the cooperation of trainers. But it would be much more time efficient, she said.

'A list of suitable patients is booked, they are aware that this will be a training session and have been previously counselled to ensure that they are not pregnant at the time,' she wrote. 'This addresses in advance the nature of training and the identity of the clinician being trained.'

Training clinicians in the practice or setting in which they work allows the selection, counselling and follow-up parts of the service to be assessed.

'It is far more comprehensive than simple procedural demonstration and allows true sign-off of competence to deliver a service,' Dr Gray explained.

Unless radical rethinking is undertaken, one-to-one practical training will continue to be the key stumbling block to delivering improved sexual health service for women, she warned.

'In many areas there is a gap between what we should be delivering as best practice and what is available to women.'

Professional training to competency-assessed standards will have spin-off benefits to all aspects of women's health, Dr Gray pointed out.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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