Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics showed that from January to March 2017, overall teenage pregnancy rates continued to fall in England and Wales – but concern remains over regional variations.
In England there were 18.5 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 17 (4,075 in total), a 6.6% drop from the same period the year before, when there were 19.8 per 1,000 (4,485 in total). In Wales, the fall was 1.4%, from 21.6 per 1,000 (276 in total) to 21.3 per 1,000 (261 in total).
However, different regions in England saw a wide variation in results compared to the same quarter last year, ranging from a 12.5% drop in the East of England to a 1.1% drop in London. The West Midlands maintained the same rate of 21.6 per 1,000, and the North East saw an increase of 3.6% compared to the same quarter last year.
Natika Halil, Chief Executive of the sexual health charity FPA, said:
“In the last four years, since the responsibility for sexual health and contraception services was devolved to local authorities, concerns have repeatedly been raised about fragmented commissioning for these services, and a lack of accountability. When combined with massive budget cuts, the picture is worryingly clear: these vital services are in real danger.
“Although quarterly teenage pregnancy rates can vary, the wide regional differences shown in today’s statistics are concerning. We are failing young people if we don’t make sure they have access to the high-quality local services that can help them have control of their contraception, and their choice over whether or not to have children.”
Last month FPA, along with a coalition of sexual and reproductive health organisations, called on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt to take action on the future of sexual health services.