The final evaluation report of the Oral Contraception in Community Pharmacy Pilot in Southwark and Lambeth has been released and it’s caused quite a stir in the national headlines in the last week.
The pilot ran between October 2009 and June 2011, with five pharmacies providing a total of 741 consultations to women aged 16 years and over. During this period, the contraceptive pill was given to the participating women without a prescription.
One of the suggestions which particularly struck a chord with the papers was: ‘Consider providing the service to women under 16 years where appropriate. This may help contribute to a reduction in teenage pregnancies.’ This recommendation has put contraception for young people, with all its complexities, back in the spotlight.
In recent years teenage pregnancy rates in the UK have been amongst the highest in Europe, and various schemes, suggestions and recommendations have been tried in order to drive down these rates. One of these suggestions has been to improve access to emergency contraception through community pharmacy, sex education in schools, and a different way of working – taking services to patients who would not normally attend mainstream healthcare.
In the Wakefield District, there has recently been good news about teenage pregnancy figures. There is always a lag obtaining data, but the latest figures for 2010 showed a fall in the under 18 conception rate to 39.4 per 1000 women in the age group, from 49.3 in 2009, and from 56.5 in 1998.
The team at Spectrum CASH Service feel proud to have contributed to the fall in teenage conceptions locally. Although the pilot scheme in in Southwark and Lambeth needs to be trialled further to evaluate its effectiveness, we know that we are making a real difference locally; this is though a range of provisions including:
- Dedicated young peoples walk-in clinics across the district
- Outreach Nurses who provide services to the hard to reach
- Training in contraception, supporting other health care professionals
Most recently this also includes the coordination of Relationship and Sex Education in schools.
Whilst we are pleased with the overall trend in falling teenage pregnancy, we as a service are not complacent, and are continuing to work to drive down the chance of unwanted pregnancy further.
We know that you need to support young people in their own community and that you have to make the process as easy and as accessible as possible. With this in mind our young peoples clinics are walk-in, so no appointments are necessary. They are also located throughout the district, in Wakefield, Castleford, Pontefract, Hemsworth, South Elmsall, Airedale and Normanton, at various times throughout the week.
All forms of contraception, including the contraceptive pill, injections, implants, coils and condoms are available free of charge. Our staff are caring, experienced and professional and will provide thorough first class care to all patients, irrespective of age.
The recommendation from the Lambeth and Southwark pilot – that the contraceptive pill should be made available from pharmacists without prescription to young people under 16 – is yet to be evaluated and it is something we definitely feel should be trialled further before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness.
In the meantime however, the Spectrum CASH service is able to see and assess patients who wish to confidentially discuss contraception or STI screening.