Free contraception for young to go

HARRY PEARL AND CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2013

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Free contraceptives could soon be taken away from young people in Hamilton, known as the chlamydia capital of the country until it was gazumped by Tauranga in 2011.

Both the Ministry of Health and the Waikato District Health Board are reviewing the delivery of free family planning advice.

But Jackie Edmond, chief executive of the Family Planning non-government organisation, which has a centre in Tristram St, knew nothing of either reviews. Hamilton, she said, was one of the organisation's busiest centres. Last year 49 per cent of its clients were under 22 and their visits were free. She said cutting free services and putting prices up drove people away.

DHB spokeswoman Mary Anne Gill said funding of contraceptive consultations was subject to a Ministry of Health review which would affect all health boards.

The board provides free condoms, pregnancy testing, emergency contraception and contraceptive advice for under 25s and is reviewing the service in its annual plan.

It is one of a number of what the board is calling low priority areas being reviewed in the board's annual plan.

The board stands to save about $2.7 million if the service is cut along with the number of primary birthing units around the region, but board chairman Graeme Milne said the review was not part of any major cost cutting.

"There's no major cutting of services - if anything we're improving services or bringing out new services," he said. "We review services to make sure we are getting value for money, that contractors are providing what we need, and whether that service continues to be best value for money for the health of the general population."

DHBs are obliged to ensure access to a primary maternity facility within 30 minutes of each community. However, Ms Gill said it was arguable whether all Waikato birthing units were needed.

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- Waikato Times

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