Concern over morning-after pill scheme in Wales
Published: 14th Jun 2011 06:58:53
A trial scheme supplying free morning-after pills has had little impact on teenage pregnancy, a document obtained by BBC Wales suggests.
The Catholic Church is concerned that the morning-after pill is now freely available in Wales even to under-16s.
Research into a pilot project in Bridgend questioned whether it was "an appropriate use of NHS resource".
The Welsh Government said emergency contraception was not part of its strategy to reduce teenage pregnancy.
Health professionals told BBC Wales' Week In Week Out the risk of pregnancy was higher than with other contraception methods.
The research, written by a specialty registrar working for NHS Trust Public Health Wales, said: "Despite the increased uptake of EHC [morning-after pill] in Bridgend… the trend in conceptions for Bridgend was not significantly different to the rest of Wales."
It concluded: "As a public health initiative to tackle unwanted teenage pregnancy, consideration must be given to whether this is an appropriate use of NHS resource."
The pill as emergency contraception is preferable to nothing after unprotected sex, but there is still a very high chance they will end up pregnant”
Following a rolling programme started in 2001, the morning-after pill has been available free from pharmacies throughout Wales since April. It is said to have a 95% success rate.
Dr Caroline Scherf, a consultant in sexual and reproductive health with the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, said people were not made aware that the risk of pregnancy was still higher than with other methods.
"The pill as emergency contraception is preferable to nothing after unprotected sex, but there is still a very high chance they will end up pregnant," she said.
"I am concerned it doesn't get out, that message."
Monsignor Robert Reardon, of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff, told the programme he was concerned about the moral issue of supplying the morning-after pill to girls under 16 and without telling their parents.
"The morning-after pill demonstrates the separation of sexuality and… responsibility," he said.
"You're left with something that is devoid of its intention - a recreational activity, almost."
Charlotte Burgess, 15, from Swansea, who is happily pregnant herself, believed the scheme would have unintended consequences.
"I think handing pills over the counter is just encouraging teenagers to have sex... they think they've got to do it."
However, Swansea pharmacist Steve Newbury said he would not hand out the morning-after pill to anyone without a 20-minute private consultation and unless he was satisfied it was safe and appropriate to do so.
The programme says providing free morning-after pills through pharmacies, when fully rolled out, will cost up to £300,000 a year, money that will be found from existing NHS budgets.
In addition to the report on Bridgend, evidence from 10 other countries, including England, suggested that increasing access to emergency contraception did not reduce unintended pregnancy rates.
A spokesman for the Welsh Government said the availability of emergency contraception through pharmacies was "an important aspect of a comprehensive sexual health service but not part of our strategy to reduce teenage conceptions".
Week In Week Out is on BBC One Wales on Tuesday, 14 June at 2235 BST.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. Concern over morning-after pill scheme in Wales. [Online] (Updated 14 Jun 2011)
Available at: http://www.manchesterwired.co.uk/news.php/161857-Concern-over-morning-after-pill-scheme-in-Wales [Accessed 20th June 2013]
At 15:51:25 in OtherMoors Murderer Ian Brady remains "chronically psychotic", the expert in charge of his case at the high-security Ashworth Hospital ...
At 14:27:05 in OtherA man has been arrested on suspicion of rape after a 13-year-old girl was attacked on her way to school in Greater Manchester....
At 13:51:04 in OtherA man jailed for a stabbing murder was convicted on "faulty" identification evidence, the Court of Appeal heard....
At 13:35:57 in BusinessIn much of the UK many young people have no prospect of getting on the property ladder. So how can they prepare for decades of renting?...
At 12:10:02 in OtherThe barracks that housed troops responsible for the Peterloo Massacre are to be excavated by archaeologists....
At 12:00:27 in OtherA Gilbert and Sullivan festival that draws thousands of visitors every summer is moving away from Derbyshire....
At 10:52:25 in OtherThe families of soldiers killed in Iraq can pursue damages against the government under the Human Rights Act, the Supreme Court has ruled....
At 07:44:02 in OtherSome breast cancer sufferers could be treated with radiotherapy instead of more invasive surgery after a Europe-wide study....
At 06:12:16 in OtherPeople living in London's East Ham are more likely to be the victims of identity fraud than anyone else in the UK, figures suggest. ...
At 01:52:36 in HeadlinesSupreme Court judges will rule later on whether relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq can sue the government for damages under the Human Righ...
News In Other Categories
The first minister has backed a break-up of RBS to split its risky investment bank from its mainstream retail and business lending arm....
The chancellor of the exchequer has raised the possibility of Ulster Bank being sold off from its parent Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)....
Retiring Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King is to be made a peer....
Microsoft has made a dramatic U-turn over its decision to impose restrictions on pre-owned titles on its new Xbox One console....
Slim Whitman, the American country singer known for his yodelling abilities has died at the age of 90....
A rodent that never gets cancer could hold the key to preventing or treating malignant tumours, say scientists....