A senior councillor has welcomed new teenage conception figures which places St Helens third lowest on Merseyside – and more significantly, narrows the gap between North West and national averages.
St Helens has historically had much higher numbers of teenage pregnancies compared to other areas, but new data – released from the Office of National Statistics – has revealed an annual rolling rate of 27.5 per thousand pregnant 15-17 year-olds, which is a significant reduction from 35.2 in 2014-15.
Averages for the North West and the whole of the country currently stand at 23.2 and 19.9 respectively, while the Merseyside figure is 26.3.
If the current trend continues, the projected number of teenage conceptions in St Helens in 2016 would be 64, showing ongoing significant reductions from 87 in 2015, and 110 in 2014.
St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, Councillor Gill Neal, has put the decrease down to the council and its partners’ continued commitment to sexual health and education services for young people in the borough.
In St Helens, young people are able to access dedicated teen sexual health clinics six days a week at the Millennium Centre on Corporation Street.
Clinics are delivered jointly with St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust Contraception and Sexual Health services and TAZ (Teen Advice Zone) Outreach – and offer confidential advice, information and clinical services to young people.
Councillor Neal said: “St Helens is one of the few areas to have a dedicated outreach team who work directly with young people at risk of teenage conceptions. The TAZ Outreach Team delivers a range of services to schools, colleges, residential and other venues and supports young people to make positive choices about their relationships to delay the onset of sexual activity and increase resilience and self-esteem to improve their overall wellbeing.
“The latest teenage conception rates are an indication of the ongoing commitment we have to improving young people’s health and wellbeing and the access that they have to excellent young people friendly services.”