I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Brent East (Sarah Teather) by the then Minister of State, Department of Health, the right hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Jane Kennedy) on 11 January 2006, Official Report, column 731W.
It is a matter for local primary care trusts (PCTs) to determine what level of contraceptive service it provides, and whom it commissions the services from, in order to meet the needs of its local population.
Improving access to, and persuading people of the benefits of using contraceptive methods to avoid the risk of unplanned pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections is one of the key aims of the Government’s White Paper, “Choosing Health: making healthy choices easier”.
Earlier this year, all PCT sexual health leads were asked to complete a baseline review of contraceptive services to inform locally and nationally gaps in service provision. The Department has so far received responses covering 245 PCTs.
Departmental officials are currently collating these data and will publish best practice guidance for reproductive health services later this year. This will link into the White Paper and highlight findings from the review, share good practice and draw out guidance to support at local and national level the provision of contraceptive services.
To support modernisation of contraceptive services we are investing £40 million (£20 million in each 2006-07 and 2007-08). We have also reduced the rate of value added tax on condoms and emergency hormonal contraception from 1 July to the lowest level of 5 per cent., making the costs of these items more affordable and are working with the industry to increase the supply of free condoms to high-risk groups.