THE sexual health of South Tyneside is to come under scrutiny tomorrow.
The council’s People Select Committee is to consider improvements made in the field over recent years – and areas which need to be improved further.
One area of major success is a massive reduction in teenage pregnancies.
Latest available figures also reveal a near 60 per cent fall in girls under the age of 18 getting pregnant since 1998.
In 2013, 76 teenage girls in the borough conceived, according to data from the Office of National Statistics. That works out as 28.3 per 1,000 of the borough’s population.
In 1998, that figure stood at 185 teenage pregnancies, a rate of 64.9 per 1,000.
Council bosses say they are delighted by the decrease, believed to be due to various initiatives and educational programmes.
However, the borough’s under-18 conception rate, is still higher than the national average of 24.3 per 1,000.
Meanwhile, members will be informed that in relation to sexually transmitted infections, chlamydia remains the most common – as it is in other parts of the North East.
Also highlighted are the number of “hard to reach” groups that are failing to access the borough’s sexual health services, including gay men, black and ethnic minority groups and young people.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust provides contraception services and sexual health screening and testing.
And all forms of contraception, including longer acting methods, are available from the majority of borough clinics, with some clinics specifically for under 25s.
A hub clinic at Stanhope Parade Health Centre in South Shields also offers a full range of contraception services.
A report, to be presented to the committee by Moira Smith, the council’s lead member for health and wellbeing, highlights measures needed to improve access to services by targeting those at-risk groups.
It also reveals that a significant number of people in South Tyneside are travelling outside the borough to receive treatment.
The report says: “The review looked at access to services for all sexually transmitted infections. It found there are certain groups within South Tyneside who are not accessing genitourinary medicine services in comparison to need, including men who have sex with men, and there is also some variation in terms of where you live in the borough.
“While accepting the need for discretion within these services and hence the open nature of the provision, we need to find out more detail why people are travelling outside of the borough for services, encourage treatment closer where possible, and increase the accessibility of local services.”
The council’s People Select Committee will meet at South Shields Town Hall from 10am.