Exclusive: PCTs block practices offering contraceptive services

Less than half of practices in England are offering patients a full range of contraceptives, as PCTs look to limit their use to cut costs, GP newspaper can reveal.

PCTs are failing to promote long-acting contraceptives
PCTs are failing to promote long-acting contraceptives

The finding, based on responses from 86 PCTs to a Freedom of Information Act request, comes despite a DoH drive to increase uptake of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to cut high teenage pregnancy rates.

The QOF now includes three sexual health indicators aimed at improving advice and choice of contraceptive methods.

But many GPs are unable to offer LARCs to patients as PCTs look to restrict their use.

Dr Sarah Gray, a GPSI in women's health in Cornwall, told GP newspaper that in parts of the country PCTs cap the number of coils in order to save money.

‘There is a huge cost agenda for PCTs,' she warned.

Just 42% of the 4,623 practices covered by the investigation were found to be offering patients a full range of contraceptives, including LARCs.

Additionally, 46% of PCTs said that they did not monitor contraception use among their patients and were unaware of what the most popular forms of contraceptive were among their population.

The postcode lottery in contraceptive services was found to be worst in London, despite the capital having some of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the country.

Just one out of 49 practices in Lewisham, south London, was found to be offering patients a full range of contraceptives, while none of the 36 practices in Tower Hamlets, east London, offered LARCs.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

  • See this week's GP dated 12 June for the full version of this story, a focus and a leader.

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