Mothers furious as 13-year-old girls given contraceptive implants at school without their knowledge
Mother says decision to keep parents in the dark was 'morally wrong'
NHS Trust defends scheme saying it has cut teenage pregnancies
Parents were furious today after discovering NHS managers have been giving their daughters contraceptive implants in school, without telling them.
The initiative in Southampton to combat teenage pregnancies was criticised by one mother who said it was morally wrong that her daughter had been given the implant between lessons.
The contraceptive implant Nexplanon is 4cm long and is inserted under the skin. A parent was outraged after it was implanted in her 13-year-old's arm
She said she was horrified that neither she nor her GP had been told her daughter had been given the 4cm device.
'I feel really angry about this. I agree that teaching teenagers about sexual health and contraception is very important but this is a step too far', she told the Southern Daily Echo.
HOW DOES THE CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT WORK
The only contraceptive implant in use in the UK is Nexplanon.
It consists of a 4cm thin flexible tube that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm by a specially trained nurse or doctor.
It releases the hormone progestogen to stop the release of an egg from the ovary, thereby preventing pregnancy.
implant works for three years before it needs to be replaced and is 99% effective.
It doesn't rely on remembering to take a
pill at the same time each day.
However, it can disrupt periods during the first year or even stop them completely while it is implanted.
Some women have complained of headaches, acne, nausea and breast tenderness in the first few months of use.
Some research has suggested it may slightly raise the risk of breast cancer. Studies are ongoing.
'I have spoken to a lot of parents at the school and they were horrified to find out this was happening.'
The mother, who did not want to be named, claimed her daughter received no follow-up appointments and had suffered mood swings, depression and cut off contact with her friends.
It is thought up to nine schools in Southampton allowed the scheme, which launched in 2009.
The schools were not told who had sought advice due to patient confidentiality rules.
Britain has one of the highest rates of
underage pregnancy in Europe, prompting the then Labour government to
launch a teenage pregnancy strategy in 1999 to combat the problem.
Best practice guidance from the
Department of Health states: 'Doctors and health professionals have a
duty of care and a duty of confidentiality to all patients, including
'This guidance applies to the
provision of advice and treatment on contraception, sexual and
reproductive health, including abortion.'
In a statement, Solent NHS Trust said the scheme had cut under-16 pregnancies in the city.
'NHS Southampton is committed to ensuring local young people are able to access clinically appropriate sexual health support, advice and treatment to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies and protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.
'One element of this is commissioning a sexual health service for young people that is provided in nine secondary schools and all three colleges across the city.
'The service is provided by trained staff and includes offering information, advice and support to students as well as chlamydia screening, condom distribution, pregnancy testing, providing a range of contraception methods and referral to other services.
'Since the service was introduced there has been a reduction in the number of under- 16-year-olds who have become pregnant.'
Pregnancy: Solent NHS Trust said the scheme had cut under-16 pregnancies in the city.
In Southampton there were 136 pregnancies among 13 to 15 year olds
in 2001 and 2003, this fell to 106 in 2007-2009.
However campaigners from the Family Education Trust said the implant initiative would give girls licence to have underage sex.
Norman Wells, director of the trust, told Mail Online: 'Schemes like this are giving girls as young as 13 a licence to engage in illegal sexual activity and denying them the protection that the law on the age of consent is intended to give.
'They inevitably lead to boys putting pressure on girls to have sex. They can now tell their girlfriends, “There's nothing to worry about. You can get the school clinic to give you an implant, so you don’t have to worry about getting pregnant. You don't have to face the embarrassment of going to see your doctor, and it's all confidential so your mum doesn't need to know a thing.”
'Parents send their children to school to receive a good education, not to be undermined by health workers who give their children contraceptives behind their backs.
'If health authorities are really interested in reducing teenage conception rates and improving sexual health, they should be looking for ways of discouraging young people from engaging in sexual activity in the first place.
'The last thing they should be doing is fuelling the flames of promiscuity and the sexual health crisis with schemes that treat parents, the law and basic moral principles with contempt.'
Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, has been asked to investigate the matter.
He said: 'This contraceptive implant clearly requires a surgical
procedure which ought to be undertaken in suitable and appropriate
'I am not sure whether the services that are being offered at the moment
enable this it happen and that is what I am going to be looking into.'