13 May 2008

Clinics miles away from young people and only open during school hours

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley today said sexual health services are failing to meet the needs of young people.

The Commissioner makes ten recommendations to improve sexual health in a keynote policy paper.

“There is an increase in sexually transmitted infections among young people and over the last 11 years there has been an average of 173 teenage pregnancies to under 17s each year,” Ms Lewsley said. 

“The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has yet to publish its sexual health strategy and services provided to young people from Gentio-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics do not meet their needs.” 

The Commissioner said that these clinics are failing teenagers in rural areas in particular.

“Young people in Fermanagh, for example, have to travel more than 60 miles to either Londonderry or Newry to access clinics and most clinics are only open during school or college hours.” 

Ms Lewsley said there were gaps in sexual health services for young people with physical or learning disabilities and children in care, and for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgendered young people

Among the recommendations of the NICCY Policy Paper was improved and consistent Relationship and Sexuality Education in schools.

“We need to develop preventative education and health services that give our young people the skills to make informed choices and protect their sexual health in order to face up to the challenges of young people being sexually active,” she said.

Ms Lewsley launches her policy in a speech to the Royal College of Nursing’s Sexual Health Seminar at the Dunadry Hotel.

Copies of the NICCY Sexual Health Policy are available to download here from the NICCY website.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES For more information please contact Andrew McGall, Communication Officer at NICCY on 028 9031 1616 or   communications@niccy.org