Thursday, 23 September 2010
I thought I'd heard most daft ideas until I read the latest nonsense from NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence).
It suggests that antenatal clinics could be set up in schools because 'evidence' shows that pregnant under-20s often feel excluded from mainstream antenatal care or judged by their peers. NICE wants midwives to be able to go into schools to offer advice to expectant young mothers and carry out health checks.
Experts behind the guidance, which applies to England and Wales, said services should be tailored to the needs of women in each region, such as providing 'one-stop shop' antenatal care in areas with high teen pregnancy rates.
"Young women aged under 20 may be reluctant to recognise their pregnancy or inhibited by embarrassment and fear of parental reaction. They may also have practical problems such as difficulty getting to and from antenatal appointments."
Take a guess where Rhona Hughes, chair of the guideline development group, discovered this idea? Aye, the US where it is a 'common pattern of care'. She also adds that teenagers can 'feel embarrassed going to clinics where there are older women' and can feel like an outsider. If they were infected with an STI would they feel embarrassed going to clinics where there are older women?
The proposal falls on its face because any woman will acknowledge that during their first pregnancy their greatest help came from the women at antenatal classes. Pregnant school pupils are no different to any woman experiencing her first pregnancy. The concerns are similar and the best way to resolve issues is by talking with other women in a similar situation. There is a shortage of midwives in this country and their work load has been increased by the disappearance of the family health visitor.
I should think that most under-20 pregnant young women would feel insulted by the implication that they aren't responsible enough to attend antenatal appointments and that includes those still in school.
Our schools need to stop being centres for society and return to being places where our children are taught the skills which will take them forward to further education or equip them for entry into the workplace.