The implant used in the scheme is Nexplanon, this is the only contraceptive implant available in the UK, and it consists of a plastic tube under the skin which releases progestogen. This works for three years and is claimed to be 99% effective, however side effects are, that it can disrupt periods, a raised risk of breast cancer, premenstrual syndrome, headaches, thromboembolism, depression and nausea.
While the NHS trust claims that the scheme had cut teenage pregnancies, campaigners for the Family Education Trust explained that this would give a licence for teenage girls to have sexual intercourse without protection. This of course would lead to greater risk of sexually transmitted infections such as HPV which is needed to be vaccinated against causing even more biologically active pollutants in our teenage population.
Norman Wells, Director of the FET commented in the 'Daily mail' that 'parents send their children to school to get a good education, not to be undermined by health workers who give their children contraceptives behind their backs'. He continued 'If health authorities are really interested in reducing teenage pregnancy rates, they should be looking for ways to discourage underage people from engaging in sexual activity in the first place'.
Guidance for best practice from the Department for Health states that 'Doctors and health professionals have a duty of care and a duty of confidentiality to all patients including those under-16s. The Solent NHS Trust said in a statement that 'NHS Southampton is committed to ensuring local young people are able to access clinically appropriate sexual health support, advice and treatment to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies and protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections'.
Could this scheme be unlawful?
For any surgical procedure (meaning the use of instruments to insert, remove or change damaged tissue,implant or foreign body) Consent must be sought from the parent of a minor unless in an emergency. The case law for contraceptive treatment and advice is known as the Gillick case.
In 1982 parent of a minor, Victoria Gillick, challenged the department for health and her local health authority that under 16s should need consent to be given advice and treatment for contraceptives and sexual health. She was successful after an appeal, but the appeal was overturned in the house of lords. However in the judgment from the House of Lords, there were guidelines. These were..
"...a doctor could proceed to give advice and treatment provided he is satisfied in the following criteria:
1) that the girl (although under the age of 16 years of age) will understand his advice;
2) that he cannot persuade her to inform her parents or to allow him to inform the parents that she is seeking contraceptive advice;
3) that she is very likely to continue having sexual intercourse with or without contraceptive treatment;
4) that unless she receives contraceptive advice or treatment her physical or mental health or both are likely to suffer;
5) that her best interests require him to give her contraceptive advice, treatment or both without the parental consent."
However in this case the health professionals have not been approached by the patient, or sought the consent of the patient to tell their parents, surely they have therefore carried out and illegal procedure?
Sources for this article include:
About the author:
D Holt is currently involved in research in the UK into the mechanisms involved in healing due to meditation, hypnosis and other ''spiritual'' healers and techniques. Previous work has included investigations into effects of meditation on addiction, the effects of sulphites on the digestive system and the use of tartrazine and other additives in the restaurant industry. new blog is now available at http://tinyurl.com/sacredmeditation
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