The government’s chlamydia screening programme has wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and six years of work, the National Audit Office has said.

Its report says primary care trusts have failed to implement the tests properly and have screened insufficient numbers to make the initiative worthwhile.

In 2007-08, five years after the programme’s launch, just 4.9 per cent of 15 to 25 year olds were being tested under the programme, despite the target being 15 per cent, the report says.

Only when the Department of Health made the programme a priority for PCTs did testing rates increase - to 15.9 per cent in 2008-09 against a 17 per cent target.

The report also says that only £100m of £150m allocated to the scheme by the government has been spent on the drive, with some trusts using the money for other purposes.

Mark Davies, director of health value for money studies at the NAO, said he felt that the initiative had not demonstrated “value for money”, adding there had been a “fragmented” approach to delivering what should have been a “fairly straightforward” programme.