Incentives for chlamydia screening

Practices can earn up to £1,000 for screening patients for chlamydia under an incentive scheme in south London.

GPs in the borough of Lambeth are being offered the incentive to boost screening of a target group of young people.

The scheme has been funded by the Modernising Initiative charity, which is working with the NHS in south London to improve services.

GPs receive an incentive payment when they screen 10 per cent of patients aged 16 to 24 on their lists.

Fourteen large practices in the area with at least 2,100 patients in the 16 to 24 age range can earn the maximum £1,000. Practices with fewer patients in the target age range earn proportionately less.

Dr Sebastian Kalwij, GP lead for the chlamydia screening project in the area, said the detection rate for both males and females is now above 10 per cent.

In a letter to the British Medical Journal, he said that adding chlamydia screening to the GMS quality framework would be an easy way to make screening proactive rather than opportunistic.

Additionally, integrating chlamydia screening into generic pathology forms would reduce paperwork for GPs, thereby boosting compliance, said Dr Kalwij.

Currently, the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) recommends that women aged 16 to 24 are opportunistically tested.

North London GP Dr Richard Ma, a member of the NCSP steering group, said a combination of opportunistic and proactive screening is needed if as many people as possible are to be tested for chlamydia.

‘We have to evaluate how far we are getting just with the opportunistic programme, because clearly if we’re not getting enough people, it’s a threat to the screening programme,’ he said.

The NCSP steering group will look at the outcomes of the initiative in Lambeth, said Dr Ma.

‘If that scheme is successful, we should use that as evidence that giving a small incentive can improve screening through general practice,’ he added.

Involving GPs in chlamydia screening is becoming increasingly important because of recent closures of some sexual health clinics, he said.

‘We need to have a population based approach,’ Dr Ma said.

Last week GP reported that sexual health experts said that sexual health should be included in the quality framework if GPs were to provide the services recommended by NICE.

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