asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether he has any proposals for the National Health Service to provide free pregnancy testing and an information and counselling service for all ways of contending with the difficulties of an unplanned pregnancy; and if he will make a statement;(2) what steps he takes to seek to ensure that the result of a National Health Service pregnancy test is made available to the client as soon as possible and where necessary counselling is provided.
Where health authorities offer general practitioners direct access to pathology facilities, then the opportunity exists for the provision of pregnancy testing, free of charge, if the practitioner feels this is appropriate. Health authorities may also offer free pregnancy tests to the patients of family planning clinics, and are aware of the importance of facilities being readily available to give prompt confirmation of pregnancy, and an early uptake of care. This was recommended by the first report of the maternity services advisory committee, which also stressed the need for each woman to be able to discuss thoroughly, with those who will be responsible for her care, any medical and social factors which may affect the course of the pregnancy, and agree a suitable pattern of care. We have commended this report to health authorities for their consideration as to the action which could and should be taken locally to improve services.