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Monday 24th October 2016

Chlamydia tests a waste of money

12th November 2009

The National Audit Office has said millions of pounds could have been saved on the national Chlamydia screening programme if the scheme had been run better.


It pointed to the NHS duplicating effort and failing to test as many of the under-25 target group in England as it should have.

In 2008, the NAO believes £17m could have been saved through a different approach in the screening programme, which was set up in response to rising rates of Chlamydia.

The screening, introduced in pilot areas in 2003, was rolled out nationally in 2007 and to date £100m has been spent on it.

The NAO would have liked to see the 152 NHS trusts responsible for delivering the programme to have worked more in partnership, set up more centralised purchasing arrangements, and avoided wasting cash on developing different branding campaigns.

The NAO said there was little evidence the programme had reached its target audience of people not using sexual health clinics.

In 2007/08, just 5% of the 15 to 24-year-old population was screened against the target of 15%, while the following year screening rose to 16% but was still short of the 17% target.

The House of Common's Public Accounts Committee will now look into the issue.

Chairman Edward Leigh said: "This is a classic example of what can go wrong when a national programme is rolled out unthinkingly."

However, the government has defended the national screening programme.

Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said: "An ambitious new programme on this scale takes time to perfect and must continue to improve."


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