PLANS for more contraception provision and sexual health advice in schools are nothing to be afraid of, East Lancashire’s leading sex health expert said.
Family and pro-life groups reacted with outrage this week after the government announced plans to push for more clinics in secondary schools, with specialist nurses able to hand out condoms and morning-after pills to under-16s.
But Carol Kelly, contraception and sexual health services manager for NHS East Lancashire, said the Healthy Bodies scheme, which has been run at Fearns Community High School, Bacup, for five years, proved the critics wrong.
She worked with the school to set up the twice-weekly sessions, which include careers advisors and youth workers as well as school nurses and sex health experts.
She said: “The service at Fearns is unique in this area - it was set up after the school’s very forward-thinking management contacted us, and it’s been a great success.
“When stories get in the national press about sexual health in teenagers, people seem to immediately assume that every young person is sexually active and that’s just not the case.
“People come to Healthy Bodies to talk to us about all sorts of things, whether that’s spots, their careers, mental health issues or anything else, like bullying, self-harming or eating disorders.
We had one lad coming for a while just to be weighed.
“For the small number of young people who do come to us for sexual health advice and contraception, including the morning-after pill, we have very strict guidelines to follow.
“We have extensive training and the main thing we do is talk to them about their lives, whether they are likely to put themselves at risk, and most importantly, we do our best to persuade them to talk to their parents or someone else they trust.
“But in the first instance, it is widely accepted that a prevented pregnancy is preferable to an unwanted pregnancy, and having an open and wide-ranging service like this means young people can access those crisis services, and get the help afterwards that they wouldn’t necessarily receive elsewhere.”