The Office of National Statistics said rates of teen pregnancy are now at their lowest since 2013. However, this progress could be reversed due to government cuts to the public health budget, research has revealed.
A study carried out by Advisory Group Contraception shows that various GPs across the UK are limiting or have stopped providing forms of contraception.
The research comes after the announcement in 2015 by the ex chancellor George Osborne, that there would be a £200million cut to public health budget from April of this year until 2021.
Registration records showed that in 2016, the birth rate among older women was higher than younger mothers. But reducing this type of services could alter this figure as teenagers today are more likely to avoid unplanned pregnancies thanks to contraception. AGC says,it would not take too long to go back to square one if women have constraints accessing the contraceptive methods that they need.
Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Services told the Guardian: “Emergency contraception services are still very much focused on preventing teenage pregnancy,” she said. “But the difficulties of modern life mean young women of all ages want and need help controlling their fertility.
See chart of live birth in the UK in age group in the past two decades: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/bulletins/birthsummarytablesenglandandwales/2015
Some of the most effective and commonly use contraception methods such as Injection, implant, IUS, IUD (intrauterine device and intrauterine system) and contraceptive pills among others have already been reduced by local councils.
Additionally, findings show a quarter of councils have already closed or may reduce several contraceptive services, affecting approximately 1.5 million women of reproductive age. Councils have control over distributing sexual health services since 2013.
Natika Halil, the chief executive of the Family Planning Association, which is also a member of the AGC, told The Guardian: “Councils are between a rock and a hard place when faced with cuts to public health budgets, but it’s a false economy to restrict women’s access to contraception.”
Warnings from sexual health experts have been encouraged as they believe the reduction of these services could lead to a rise in unplanned pregnancies and abortions.
Jane Dickson, an NHS sexual health consultant, said to the BBC that she was worried about a possible “escalation” in teenage pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy and abortion rates, if cuts continue according to Mr. Osborne plan.
People, specially women have been showing their concern on social media:
AGC also claims, allowing women to decide which contraception treatment suits them best would help to improve public health outcomes, and every £1 invested in contraception would save £11 in avoided health outcomes.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said cuts in public health will lead to higher long-term costs for the NHS. The department of Health expects that in the next five years, more than 16bn will be invested in local government public health services.
You can read the entire AGC research in the following link: http://theagc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Private-lives-public-health-Final.pdf