Over 3 million women do not have access to full contraception services

Over 3.2m women live in areas of England without comprehension contraceptive services, details of a Freedom of Information investigation suggest.

A woman holds an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD), or coil (SPL)
A woman holds an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD), or coil (SPL)

Analysis by the Advisory Group on Contraception found that a third of women aged 15-44 do not have access to fully comprehensive contraceptive services, through community or primary care. Women in these areas faced restrictions in access to services or contraceptives.

The average abortion rate in 2010 for PCTs with some form of restriction in community or primary care in place was higher than the national average.

In addition, one in six PCTs confirmed that ‘red’ or ‘black’ lists, or equivalent formulary arrangements, were in place to restrict access to particular contraceptives. These PCTs are responsible for meeting the contraceptive needs of over 2m women of reproductive age.

Family Planning Association chief executive Julie Bentley said the report revealed ‘significant shortcomings’ in NHS contraception services.

She said the current situation was ‘an appalling state of affairs affecting millions of women’.

‘Contraception is an essential, not a luxury,’ she said. ‘When areas of the NHS deliberately ban certain contraceptive methods and put up barriers and restrictions to services, women pay the price in abortion and unplanned pregnancy. This is completely unacceptable.’

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