The sexual health charity FPA welcomed the further drop in teenage pregnancy rates in England and Wales revealed today, but raised concerns over regional variations – days after a coalition of key charities and organisations launched a petition to end cuts to sexual health services.
Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics showed that from July to September 2016, overall rates continued to fall.
In England there were 17.7 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 17 (4,006 in total), a 9.7% drop from the same period the year before, when there were 19.6 per 1,000 (4,514 in total). In Wales, the fall was 12.6%, from 23.8 per 1,000 (312 in total) to 20.8 per 1,000 (264 in total).
However, different regions in England saw a wide variation in results compared to the same quarter last year, ranging from a 3.8% drop in the South West to a 16.7% drop in the North East. And the East Midlands, saw an increase of 6.2% compared to the same quarter last year.
Last month, FPA found that almost one-fifth of women have had to wait over two weeks for a contraception appointment, and the Advisory Group on Contraception revealed that more than one in three of the 152 councils in England have closed services delivering contraceptive care since 2015.
Last week, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, with support from FPA and a coalition of key sexual health charities and organisations, launched a petition calling on the Secretary of State for Health to reverse the cuts that are devastating sexual health services across England. The petition already has more than 1,000 signatures.
Natika Halil, Chief Executive of the sexual health charity FPA, said:
“Although quarterly teenage pregnancy rates can vary quite significantly, these regional variations are still something to watch carefully, especially in light of the cuts to contraception and sexual health services in recent years which are putting services under incredible strain.”
“Whether or not young people are sexually active, or choose to become parents, they should never face stigma or judgement. Instead, we must make sure that the services are in place to give them the support they need to make informed choices about their lives. If sexual health services continue to close or reduce their capacity at this current rate, we will fail young people in that goal, and teenage pregnancy rates may start to rise once again.”