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Government botched screening for chlamydia

28th January 2010

MPs have criticised the government’s attempts to cut rates of the sexually transmitted infection chlamydia in England.

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The Public Accounts Committee described the attempt to reduce incidence as inefficient and that there was a lack of urgency in trying to reach the high volume of testing needed to curb the spread of infection.

In a report, the PAC said that more young people than necessary are still being affected by a condition that shows few noticeable symptoms and if untreated can cause health complications and infertility in women.

Since 2003, £100m has been spent on screening in England but in 2008 there were still more than 200,000 people diagnosed with chlamydia.

The programme has come under repeated criticism, particularly over its inability to establish the impact and effect of the programme.

PAC chairman Edward Leigh said: "This is a classic example of what can happen when the responsibility for delivering a national initiative is pushed down to local level, with little thought about the mechanisms and interventions needed at national and regional level to maintain efficiency and momentum."

He said the government needed to make the screening programme a national response to a national problem to help cut infection rates but also spend the money more efficiently.

The sexual health charity for young people, Brook, agreed with the criticisms.

Spokesman Simon Blake said: “There has been duplication of effort. The programme has not always been as efficient or effective as possible.”

But public health minister Gillian Merron said results were improving.

 

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