Date Published: 27 August 2005

Boots the Chemist to provide free chlamydia screening for 16-24 year olds across London

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

The contract to provide chlamydia screening in high-street pharmacies across London has been awarded to Boots (High Street Chemist), UK Public Health minister Caroline Flint last week (Weds. 24th August).

Boots the Chemists will be providing the free and confidential service in all its London pharmacies from November this year - as part of a Department of Health initiative to make it easier for 16-24 year old men and women to be screened and tested for chlamydia.

Chlamydia is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), affecting as many as one in ten sexually active young men and women, but can be easily cured with antibiotics. However, if untreated in women it can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

Caroline Flint said:

" With its hundreds of stores, in prime locations across the capital, Boots is ideally placed to provide the chlamydia screening and treatment for our two year pilot.
_ Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK and it's therefore important we make screening and treatment services accessible ? especially for young men and women under 25 who lead such busy lives.
_ By making this free service available in pharmacies on the high street, it will make it easier for people to call in for a screening test ? helping to speed up both the detection and treatment of chlamydia cases. "

The pilot will be monitored and evaluated over a two year period to test the community pharmacy setting as an alternative access point for chlamydia screening. If successful, the scheme might then be made available nationally. The screening and treatment service will also be available to all partners of those who test positive ? regardless of their age.

Boots expect to provide approximately 50,000 screens a year ? with test kits available over the counter, testing and analysis carried out by Quest Diagnostics and treatment consultations taking place in private areas. The advantage to the health service of using Independent Sector providers, such as Boots, is that they are already in position on the high street to provide National Health Service (NHS) quality chlamydia testing. This means costs to the taxpayer are kept down and skilled staff will need not be diverted from other areas of the NHS.

Chlamydia testing and screening is currently available in 26 areas of England under the National Chlamydia Screening Programme and is offered in a variety of healthcare and non-healthcare settings including further education colleges, armed forces bases and prisons.

Pradip Patel, Boots Pharmacy Superintendent said:

" Boots are delighted to have been awarded this tender, following a very rigorous bidding process. We believe that this is a fantastic opportunity for pharmacy and offers customers improved access to chlamydia screening.
_ Boots is uniquely placed to offer this service in London, as we have 201 pharmacies taking part which offers a wide geographical coverage of local high street locations. Boots pharmacies will offer a high quality service and our pharmacists and healthcare support teams will be fully trained to ensure a consistency of service. The service will start during November 2005."

Source(s): The UK Department of Health

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