Call for chlamydia test funding

GPs need incentives to boost chlamydia screening rates, says the director of the National Chlaymdia Screening Programme (NCSP).

The call follows a dramatic drop in the levels of screening performed by GPs since funded pilot schemes ended.

The proportion of chlamydia screens performed in general practice fell from 63 per cent in 2003, when the programme began, to just 15 per cent in 2006/7.

Since being introduced, over 53,000 tests have been carried out in general practice.

Speaking at the National Chlamydia Screening Conference in central London last week, Dr Mary Macintosh, director of the NCSP, told delegates that 'work has to be done to identify ways of engaging GPs in chlamydia screening'.

'GPs had a more prominent role when the pilot chlamydia screening programmes were first introduced,' said Dr Macintosh.

'But now, in the fourth year since the roll-out of the programme, the role of the GP has decreased.'

Some PCTs have developed a local enhanced service (LES) to support GPs offering screening.

An NCSP spokeswoman told GP: 'The NCSP agrees that it might be helpful to have a common template for general practice involvement in the NCSP via an LES, but this would have to be flexible in its pricing structure to accommodate local variations.'

North London GP Dr Richard Ma, a member of the NCSP screening programme, said: 'We know from the GMS quality framework that incentives do influence the way that people behave. Money does motivate.'

However, he added: 'Incentives may also increase the level of exception reporting and the manipulation of registers.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

National Chlamydia Screening Conference 2007

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