Trust cuts teen pregnancy rates

A health trust, which backed a decision to administer a contraceptive jab to a girl in a McDonald’s toilet, has cut teenage pregnancies by over 20%.

Figures published by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) showed Gateshead Primary Care Trust made the reductions over six years.

In September 2005 nurse Angela Star gave the injection in McDonald’s as part of a scheme to engage teenagers.

At the time, the company called the practice “completely inappropriate”.

In 2005, Bob Smith, chief executive of Gateshead Primary Care Trust, said Mrs Star was successfully attempting to connect with girls who would otherwise not seek help.

Statistics published by the DfES Teenage Pregnancy Unit showed that in Gateshead in 1998, 57.1 girls aged 15-17 per 1,000 conceived, which by 2004 had dropped to 44.5 per 1,000.

The trust said it is in the top 20 authorities in England who have seen the biggest decrease in the numbers of teenage pregnancies.

Vulnerable groups

It was invited to share its methods with the rest of the country in the Teenage Pregnancy Next Steps’ guide published in July.

Barbara Convery, teenage pregnancy co-ordinator at Gateshead Council, said: “We offer judgement-free, confidential advice and support through our young people’s clinics and also through outreach workers.

“I believe we are unique in the country because we have an equal and sometimes greater number of young men using our clinics than young women.”

The trust has specialist workers targeting the vulnerable groups and, unusually, it employs a dedicated sexual health worker for children in care.

Nationally, there has been a drop of 11% in under-18 conceptions since 1998.

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