GP chlamydia project boosts detection rate

Chlamydia testing should be added to the QOF to reduce infection rates in young people, according to a London GP who pioneered a successful screening programme.

Dr Sebastian Kalwij: chlamydia should be part of screening
Dr Sebastian Kalwij: chlamydia should be part of screening

Dr Sebastian Kalwij led a project in the south London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark that paid practices to offer chlamydia testing to 15- to 24-year-olds.

Results from his study, published in BMC Public Health last month, showed chlamydia screening in Lambeth practices had risen from 23 tests in 2003/4 to 4,813 tests in 2010/11, with a similar increase seen in Southwark.

The former national lead for chlamydia screening in England told GP: 'I think if chlamydia screening was part of QOF, we would achieve much higher and more consistent screening levels around the country.

'This is important because screening a large percentage of young people aged 15-24 will lead to a reduction in prevalence, and we are nowhere near there yet.'

Dr Kalwij said his study showed that practices could screen a large number of patients when given the right educational and financial support.

'Even though the test itself is easy to do, it does take time to talk to patients and answer their questions, and many positive cases are not so straightforward and can be time consuming,' he said.

'With a lot of demands on GPs already, it is only fair to expect some financial compensation for the time and effort.'

He added that GPs were well placed to offer the testing in many parts of the UK where there were few family planning or sexual health clinics.

'For most patients, general practice is the first port of call. Several studies have shown that young people prefer to be seen by their GP or practice nurse for matters relating to sexual health; they see GPs as people they can trust,' he said.

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