North Tyneside has seen a significant reduction in the teenage pregnancy rate of 74 per cent since 1998. At the heart of North Tyneside Council’s success has been its partnership working which has allowed it to make great strides in creating youth-friendly services.
There is an integrated sexual health service – One to One – delivered by the local NHS through a ‘hub and spoke’ model. The hub is the centrally-located clinic, which has been given the ‘You’re Welcome’ accreditation for being young person-friendly. There is also a network of drop-in clinics that offer access to sexual health advice, including contraception, from trained staff.
These are based in a variety of settings, including alongside health services and in community venues where need is greatest. The drop-in clinics run across the borough with some running into the early evening, while the hub is open until 7.30pm Monday to Friday and during part of the day on Saturdays.
Operational Service Manager for Integrated Sexual Health Services, Anne Tierney says: “The important thing is to be prepared to be flexible and monitor how services are being delivered. We are constantly asking whether we are providing services in the right place, at the right time.”
The drop-in service has also been accompanied by more dedicated support for the most vulnerable teenagers and those who become young parents. A range of training courses are available to all health and non-health staff. These include everything from an introduction to sexual health to C-Card training for receptionists and pharmacy counter assistants. As part of that, dedicated training has been provided to staff working with the most vulnerable children such as those in youth offending, drug and alcohol and young people’s care so they are aware how to help young people access services.
There is also a young parent midwife who works with all parents under the age of 20, offering a wide range of additional support including discussing antenatal contraception as early as possible in pregnancy and, in most cases, agree a method before birth with the aim of preventing second unplanned pregnancies. To ensure everyone has access to accurate sexual and reproductive health information and details of local services, a sexual health website and app have been developed for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust which are widely publicis ed.
Ms Tierney says: “Our aim has been to make sure young people feel comfortable accessing our services. But you can only do that through partnership working. We have worked closely with the voluntary sector, with schools and health.”
Wendy Burke, North Tyneside’s Director of Public Health, says making sure such health services are accessible has been a key part of the success. But she says it is just one part of the wider strategy on teenage pregnancy, citing good leadership and data collection, having committed staff, promoting long-acting reversible contraception and providing high quality sex and relationships education. “Reducing teenage conceptions in the borough is multi-faceted and complex,” she adds.
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