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13 / 02 / 2009 - GPs to get bonuses for giving teenagers contraceptive implants and jabs without informing parents
GPs will be paid bonuses for persuading teenagers to have long-lasting contraceptive implants and jabs without their parents' knowledge, it has emerged.
From next year, doctors are to receive the payments for encouraging young women to use long-acting methods of contraception rather than taking the Pill each day.
They will be pressed to tell those prescribed the morning-after pill that an injection or coil would be better to prevent pregnancies.
Ministers say the move is necessary as many teenagers fail to take the Pill regularly and do not use condoms properly.
But campaigners condemned the payments as bribes. They warned that the measures would lead to thousands of underage girls being given contraception without the knowledge of their parents.
They said the contraceptives would encourage promiscuity and fuel the rise in sexually-transmitted infections.
The plans were revealed by Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Schools Secretary Ed Balls yesterday as part of a strategy on the young.
Ministers believe traditional contraceptive methods have had little impact on the teenage pregnancy rate, which remains the highest in Western Europe.
Instead, they want teenage girls to use contraceptive jabs and implants or intra-uterine coils, which can last between three months and five years.
Ministers say those aged 16 to 24 account for nearly of all diagnosed sexually-transmitted infections, despite making up just 12 per cent of the population.
The document said: 'We have evidence that young people have very limited knowledge of contraceptive methods - particularly the safe and very effective, long-acting,
reversible methods of contraception (LARC) - to prevent repeat abortions or births.'
Some £27million a year will be invested to improve access to contraception.
'Identified priorities for this funding include teenage pregnancy 'hotspot areas'.
'We have made clear that this funding should be used to ensure that all young people have easy access to high quality contraception advice, including LARC, and to improve training of health professionals in providing contraception-From 2009-10 onwards, GPs will be given greater incentives, through the Quality and Outcomes Framework, to provide advice on sexual health - specifically advice on contraception, particularly long-acting methods.'
GPs receive about a third of their salary, which is performance-related, through this framework. From next April, they will be paid every time they give a teenager advice on sexual health, particularly on long-acting contraception.
Doctors will be given the money if they achieve three indicators. Each point is worth about £124 for the practice.
They receive four points for producing a register of women prescribed contraception at least once in the last year. Another six are awarded if 90 per cent of those who have taken the morning-after pill or are on the Pill, are given advice on longacting contraceptive methods.
Under guidance from the General Medical Council, GPs are allowed to give such advice to young girls without the knowledge of their parents.
They are likely also to be able to give under-age girls the injections without consent from parents, as they can the Pill.
Norman Wells, of the charity Family and Youth Concern, said: 'Parents of girls under 16 will be alarmed to think that doctors are going to be given financial incentives to provide their daughters with contraception behind their backs.
'It is tantamount to bribing doctors to facilitate underage sex. The more the Government has invested in schemes to promote contraception among teenagers, the more young people have become sexually active and the higher rates of sexually-transmitted infection have risen.'
There are also concerns about side-effects of long-term contraception. Possible side-effects of the implant include irregular periods, acne, weight gain, headaches and abdominal pain. Some have excessive bleeding.
Some coils can make periods very heavy and carry a risk of infection. Concerns have been raised that the contraceptive injection can lead to brittle bones.
Jackie Fletcher, of the antivaccine group Jabs, said: ' Giving a doctor a monetary gain to promote a product is abhorrent, especially if it is a vaccine with possible side-effects.
'I am also concerned that girls will have this jab, continue to have sex and then pick up a sexually-transmitted disease.'
Source: Daniel Martin and Laura Clark, DAILY MAIL