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DH urges GPs to 'look beyond the pill'

By Lilian Anekwe

The Department of Health have announced a new push to encourage GPs to look beyond the pill and offer young women alternative, longer-acting contraceptive methods.

Billed as a ‘revolution in contraception' in the popular press, the drive means the job of tackling the increasing rates of teenage and unintended pregnancies is expected to fall to GPs.

PCTs will be allocated £12.8 million to improve access to contraception and encourage GPs to offer more women contraceptive injections, implants and intrauterine contraceptives.

An All Party Parliamentary Group on sexual health report in October found that 75% of women asking for contraceptive advice in primary care are not offered all methods of contraception. 14% of women are prescribed a long-acting contraceptive, compared to 35% prescribed the pill.

The move is set to redress the low uptake of LARCs, which Pulse reported in November had fallen from 1,195,000 in 2005 – when guidance on LARCs was published by NICE – to 1,163,000 in 2006.

Announcing the initiative, public health minister Dawn Primarolo said it was ‘just one part of the Government's strategy on sexual health'.

She added: ‘We need to improve access to the full range of methods of contraception in many areas, particularly those with high and increasing rates of teenage pregnancy and high rates of abortion.'

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