Government wastes time and money on STI checks

The Government has wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on screening for chlamydia because of poor organisation, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The National Chlamydia Screening Programme misspent £17 million last year and another £40 million could be wasted next year, the NAO says.

The report estimates chlamydia tests should cost £33 each time, but it says some NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are spending up to £255 per test.

Chlamydia rates are still rising despite the money spent on the scheme.

Press reports say that in 2003 there were 55,000 people diagnosed but by 2008 that figure rose to almost 70,000. The Government says the increase is only because of the rise in testing.

The NAO report also found England’s local care trusts were wasting money by running separate campaigns.

At least 45 different ‘brands’ for the tests have been launched.

Reports say the use of nightclubs as hosts for the testing programme was also questioned.

Earlier this year Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, heavily criticised the Government for its attempts to tackle sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancy.

He said that the screening programmes and other ‘education’ systems were not helping bring down teenage pregnancy rates.

Mr Wells said: “How much more public money is going to be wasted before the Government wakes up to the fact that bombarding young people with information about contraception and offering them free hand-outs is no way to address the sexual health crisis among teenagers?

“The ‘safer sex’ message is abandoning young people to the heartache and misery of a series of broken relationships and exposing them to the risk of disease and mental health problems.

“The answer does not lie in yet more sex education and contraceptive schemes that normalise casual sex.”

He added: “Young people have never had more information about contraception and yet the more money that has been invested in contraceptive education, the higher sexually transmitted infection rates have risen.”

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