GPs now told to send STI patients to GUM clinics

GPs have been praised for identifying STIs and referring patients on to GUM clinics to receive treatment.

This follows research that showed one third of patients seen in GUM clinics had already been seen by their GP.

A cross-sectional survey of 1,000 new patients attending both booked and drop-in GUM clinics in Cornwall was undertaken between June and December 2006.

Patients were asked during the GUM consultation if they had attended primary care beforehand and received either diagnosis or treatment.

Patients aged 25 and over were more likely to visit their GP (42 per cent) than those under the age of 25 (32 per cent).

Overall, 61 per cent of patients who visited their GP were given an STI diagnosis, with genital examinations carried out on 60 per cent of females and 58 per cent of males.

GPs correctly diagnosed 74 per cent of cases of genital warts, and offered treatment to 33 per cent of patients presenting with STIs.

Lead researcher Dr Rachel Neale, from the GUM department at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, said: 'It is entirely appropriate for GPs to refer patients on to GUM for further assessment and management, but it would be prudent for patients to have an initial assessment in primary care.'

Dr Colm O'Mahony, a consultant in sexual health in Chester and spokesman for the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) said: 'I would not expect GPs to have to manage all of the cases of STIs that they see.

'Referring the patients on to GUM clinics is an excellent way to manage the situation.

'In the GUM clinics we can do tests for all the STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea.'

Only when there are large waiting lists and delays at the GUM clinics should the GPs treat the STIs themselves, added Dr O'Mahony.

STI Online 2008

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