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GPs urged to improve quality of sexual healthcare

28 July 2008

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GPs in England must increase the level and quality of sexual healthcare offered to the public, a report has said.

Experts say that, following the National Strategy for Sexual Health, published in 2001, care has been inconsistent across England, with many GPs not offering adequate help to patients.

The report was written by the Medical Foundation for Aids and Sexual Health for the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and was funded by the Department of Health.

The wide-ranging report also repeats calls by the advisory group for sex education to be made compulsory.

It says access to genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics has improved, with almost all offering appointments within 48 hours, plus a fall in teenage pregnancy rates – 2006 figures showed them at their lowest rate for 20 years.

But it noted a worrying rise in the diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, as well as a rise in demand for abortions.

Ruth Lowbury, executive director of MEDFASH and a co-author of the report, told the BBC: “There are examples of really wonderful practice by family doctors. We need GPs to be able to identify sexual health needs and be confident talking about sex.”

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Medical Foundation for Aids and Sexual Health