Primary care trusts' management of sexual health services in general practice is 'erratic, uncoordinated and poorly planned', according to new report.
The report 'Delivery of Sexual Health in General Practices' published today by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Choice and Sexual Health Group found only 5 per cent of general practices in the 122 PCTs surveyed in the report provided testing and diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections and 61 per cent said they did not provide STI services at all.
The survey also shows that 70 per cent of women are not being offered a full range of contraceptive methods, and that PCTs are not targeting services to reduce unintended pregnancies in women over the age of 18.
According to the report, of the PCTs surveyed nearly half had not assessed and did not know the methods of contraception general practices in their area were offering.
Chair of the Group Baroness Joyce Gould warned that too many PCTs were 'unaware' of what was happening in sexual health services 'on their own doorstep'.
'The Group is extremely concerned that PCTs across England are falling short of expectations and neglecting their duty to meet recognised standards'.
Baroness Gould said that sexual health services in general practice should not be viewed simply as a back up to specialist services.
'Instead of harmonisation, services in general practice are developing on an ad hoc basis, out of synchronisation with the needs of people trying to use them,' she added.
The group is making four 'key demands' on PCTs in order to address the survey's findings.
It says PCTs need to:
-carry out regular contraceptive audits to establish what methods are being prescribed;
-ensure an adequate number of general practices offer all fourteen methods of contraception;
-offer greater financial incentives and resources to general practices so they can offer other sexual health services such as STI testing;
-use contraception and abortion budgets to make services cost effective by reducing the numbers of unintended pregnancies.