Leeds's gymslip mum shame

Teenage pregnancy rates in Leeds are not falling quickly enough, health bosses have admitted.

Most recent figures for June 2009 show the rate of pregnancy per 1,000 15 to 17-year-olds is 49.8, a small reduction from the previous rate of 50.8.

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But NHS managers in the city say the numbers are not being cut quickly enough and they need to look at whether resources to tackle the issue are being used effectively.

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They are also facing a 25 per cent cut in the grant funding which supports teenage pregnancy work.

Paul Bollom, of Leeds City Council's directorate of children's services, told a meeting of the council's Health Scrutiny Board said that though they were "mid-table" compared to similar cities, there had been little improvement.

"We have not really moved in the last 10 years," he said.

"Nationally rates have dropped in the order of 15 or 20 per cent.

"Leeds has not moved very far but it's not the worst performing local

authority by any means."

He said they were focusing resources on hotspots for teenage pregnancy and knew what worked to combat the problem, including all organisations working together, consistent messages from health and children's workers and good quality sex education in schools.

"We need good aspirations for young people, they need to feel there's a positive route through education and that's very protective against teenage pregnancy," he added.

Arthur Giles, representative on the scrutiny board for patient group

Leeds Link, said the latest figures were "very disappointing".

"We were in this position last year.

"We really need to look at the resources and what we are doing because we are not doing what's necessary."

Coun Judith Chapman (Lib Dem, Weetwood), chairman of the Children's Services Scrutiny Board, asked if they could team up with the Health Board to create a joint working group looking at the issue.

Other recent measures taken include identifying local councillors as champions in their areas, 47 people being trained to deliver an early intervention programme and young fathers testing services to see how they can improve.

However there could be a risk to progress if the council and NHS don't work jointly on the issue, a report says.

Leeds Lives Not Knives message taken into community