Concerns over sexual health services in Waltham Forest led to the opening of a new family planning clinic in Walthamstow.

First published in Your Local Areas East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

A GP surgery which refused to provide contraception to patients in an area of high teenage pregnancy has performed a u-turn following widespread criticism.

Health bosses introduced family planning services at Comely Bank Health Centre because the adjacent Addison Road Medical Centre in Walthamstow refused to provide contraception.

It is believed the lead GP at the surgery is catholic and objected to the use of the pill and condoms.

But following concerns raised by the All-Parliamentary Group on Sexual Health and Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy about the accessibility of family planning and sexual health services in the area, the clinic has now changed its policy.

A report published by the All-Parliamentary Group called for various contraception restrictions to be lifted and used testimony from women in Walthamstow as a case study.

Jenny Lennox, 32, of Brookfield Avenue, was one of those who contributed.

She lives close to the Addison Road Medical Practice but was unable to get the pill from her doctor following the birth of her baby.

She told the Guardian: "I was horrified when I found out. Instead of a ten-minute walk to my GP, it meant a 20 minute bus ride with my baby in her buggy.

"Then, when I got there, I faced a long wait because they don’t run an appointments system. You just have to turn up and wait."

Waltham Forest one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the country, with an average of 206 cases a year between 1998 and 2009. Numbers have been falling but not as quickly as the national average.

Miss Creasy said there was a "real sense of frustration" about the quality of sexual health services in Walthamstow.

But she said work is still needed, including the introduction of an appointments system to make it easier for patients.

An NHS spokesman confirmed the services are now being offered at Addison Road but did not revealed the reason for the change in policy.

He said: "GPs decided to commission the clinic after discussions with women in Walthamstow revealed the need for more access to services in this part of the borough.

"GPs are now looking to increase provision further for local women."

No-one from the Addison Road Medical Practice was prepared to comment.

Health bosses have also agreed to meet with campaigners and residents next Friday (July 20) to discuss their concerns.

It will take place at the Salvation Army Hall at 432 Forest Road in Walthamstow, from 6.30pm.

The new clinic will operate every Thursday between 2pm and 7pm.

By law, NHS trusts must help residents with sexual health issues but GPs can refuse to provide contraception as a matter of conscience.

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Comments (13)

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11:12am Fri 13 Jul 12

hargwyne says...

The Addison Road practice is a disgrace. Not only is their stance over contraception simply appalling but, in our experience, they also seem to be incompetent on a general level. We took one of our children there as we suspected they had a common and ongoing childhood ailment. We were told on several occasions that, no, there is nothing wrong. Not convince, we eventually went privately to see a specialist. Who, after a 1 minute examination, said that, yes, they have a bad case of it and need a routine operation to fix things. Needless to say, we’ve completely lost confidence in the standard of care they give.
The Addison Road practice is a disgrace. Not only is their stance over contraception simply appalling but, in our experience, they also seem to be incompetent on a general level. We took one of our children there as we suspected they had a common and ongoing childhood ailment. We were told on several occasions that, no, there is nothing wrong. Not convince, we eventually went privately to see a specialist. Who, after a 1 minute examination, said that, yes, they have a bad case of it and need a routine operation to fix things. Needless to say, we’ve completely lost confidence in the standard of care they give. hargwyne
  • Score: 0

11:18am Fri 13 Jul 12

Harry J says...

We all have our individual experiences of course, but if you look at NHS Choices, where people can rate practices, Addison Road has nothing but excellent comments. It is highly thought of by its patients and appears now to be offering even more services - that's surely a good thing.
We all have our individual experiences of course, but if you look at NHS Choices, where people can rate practices, Addison Road has nothing but excellent comments. It is highly thought of by its patients and appears now to be offering even more services - that's surely a good thing. Harry J
  • Score: 0

11:28am Fri 13 Jul 12

mdj says...

Did the surgery receive the same capitation pay per patient as others, while providing a more restricted service?
Did it make it known to new patients that the full range of public health services was not available?
Did the surgery receive the same capitation pay per patient as others, while providing a more restricted service? Did it make it known to new patients that the full range of public health services was not available? mdj
  • Score: 0

12:21pm Fri 13 Jul 12

sunn says...

If you can't deal with contraception then you shouldn't have a licence to practice medicine. Simple.

If the authorities can't revoke their licence then they should be boycotted.
If you can't deal with contraception then you shouldn't have a licence to practice medicine. Simple. If the authorities can't revoke their licence then they should be boycotted. sunn
  • Score: 0

12:57pm Fri 13 Jul 12

Techno3 says...

sunn wrote:
If you can't deal with contraception then you shouldn't have a licence to practice medicine. Simple.

If the authorities can't revoke their licence then they should be boycotted.
How much 'medicine' is there in using condoms? Just asking.
[quote][p][bold]sunn[/bold] wrote: If you can't deal with contraception then you shouldn't have a licence to practice medicine. Simple. If the authorities can't revoke their licence then they should be boycotted.[/p][/quote]How much 'medicine' is there in using condoms? Just asking. Techno3
  • Score: 0

2:02pm Fri 13 Jul 12

the dame says...

I am pleased that the GP practice has rescinded its earlier actions. A doctor should be impartial in his treatment of patients and not base his decisions on his religion. If this is the case, then I am afraid that he has decided on the wrong profession. I always find it difficult to understand that major decisions such as contraception or the lack of are taking by the male sex who will never understand the position of the woman and the repercussions an unwanted pregnancy may have. We all make mistakes at some time in our lives.
I am pleased that the GP practice has rescinded its earlier actions. A doctor should be impartial in his treatment of patients and not base his decisions on his religion. If this is the case, then I am afraid that he has decided on the wrong profession. I always find it difficult to understand that major decisions such as contraception or the lack of are taking by the male sex who will never understand the position of the woman and the repercussions an unwanted pregnancy may have. We all make mistakes at some time in our lives. the dame
  • Score: 0

2:51pm Fri 13 Jul 12

everoptimistic says...

I have been attending the Addison Road Practice for 37years. The fact that the clinic does not offer family planning has, as far as I know, always been publicised. Details of clinics that do provide family planning services are provided and there are several doctors surgeries within a ten minute walk who offer this service. This really is an excellent practice and I could not find one thing to criticise them for over all these years. Try living in the countryside and seeing how far you have to go for family planning or anything else for that matter. We are spoilt for choice in London.
I have been attending the Addison Road Practice for 37years. The fact that the clinic does not offer family planning has, as far as I know, always been publicised. Details of clinics that do provide family planning services are provided and there are several doctors surgeries within a ten minute walk who offer this service. This really is an excellent practice and I could not find one thing to criticise them for over all these years. Try living in the countryside and seeing how far you have to go for family planning or anything else for that matter. We are spoilt for choice in London. everoptimistic
  • Score: 0

3:01pm Fri 13 Jul 12

myopinioncounts says...

Techno3 says..How much 'medicine' is there in using condoms? Just asking. Well, for a start THEY prevent STD's, The 'Pill' and other feminine forms of contraception prevents unwanted or even life threatening pregnancies where a woman has to take the initiative because her husband/ partner won't.
Techno3 says..How much 'medicine' is there in using condoms? Just asking. Well, for a start THEY prevent STD's, The 'Pill' and other feminine forms of contraception prevents unwanted or even life threatening pregnancies where a woman has to take the initiative because her husband/ partner won't. myopinioncounts
  • Score: 0

3:50pm Fri 13 Jul 12

Aquickcupoftea says...

More power to your elbow - a victory against religious bigotry. Nicely timed with the Gates Foundation contraception conference.
More power to your elbow - a victory against religious bigotry. Nicely timed with the Gates Foundation contraception conference. Aquickcupoftea
  • Score: 0

11:56pm Fri 13 Jul 12

Walthamster says...

Excellent news. Congratulations to all who put pressure on this surgery to provide a full service. This campaign should not have been necessary.
Excellent news. Congratulations to all who put pressure on this surgery to provide a full service. This campaign should not have been necessary. Walthamster
  • Score: 0

12:40pm Sat 14 Jul 12

Sam Hain says...

Aneurin Bevan famously said of his deal with doctors to agree to the setting up of the new NHS, he had "stuffed their mouths with gold". Seems like GPs are still taking the money and doing exactly as they please.
Aneurin Bevan famously said of his deal with doctors to agree to the setting up of the new NHS, he had "stuffed their mouths with gold". Seems like GPs are still taking the money and doing exactly as they please. Sam Hain
  • Score: 0

7:54am Sun 15 Jul 12

Helen, Walthamstow says...

The words "it is believed that..." send shivers down my spine. Does anyone KNOW that the doctor's religion had anything to do with the situation? It may be down to lack of space and expertise.

The real questions are why there was no birth control clinic offering general access in this area or why one was not included in the plans when the health centre was opened? There used to be a good number of such clinics In Waltham Forest but the NHS closed several down.
The words "it is believed that..." send shivers down my spine. Does anyone KNOW that the doctor's religion had anything to do with the situation? It may be down to lack of space and expertise. The real questions are why there was no birth control clinic offering general access in this area or why one was not included in the plans when the health centre was opened? There used to be a good number of such clinics In Waltham Forest but the NHS closed several down. Helen, Walthamstow
  • Score: 0

12:38pm Thu 19 Jul 12

EastEndLass says...

A little concerned that the reputation of "...the accessibility of family planning and sexual health services in the area" is being raised, when as far as I was aware, only people at this one clinic were complaining.

Obviously because it's the village, the complainants are very vocal ;)

I had two GPs refuse me family planning before I moved to Walthamstow - in 1991 in Gillingham by a VERY religious (white female) doctor and in 2000 in Stoke Newington by again a very religious (black male) doctor. Both times I enrolled with another doctor - the second time was with a very young baby.

i have had three doctor's since living in Walthamstow (94-98 and 2000-now) and have had no problems at all!
A little concerned that the reputation of "...the accessibility of family planning and sexual health services in the area" is being raised, when as far as I was aware, only people at this one clinic were complaining. Obviously because it's the village, the complainants are very vocal ;) I had two GPs refuse me family planning before I moved to Walthamstow - in 1991 in Gillingham by a VERY religious (white female) doctor and in 2000 in Stoke Newington by again a very religious (black male) doctor. Both times I enrolled with another doctor - the second time was with a very young baby. i have had three doctor's since living in Walthamstow (94-98 and 2000-now) and have had no problems at all! EastEndLass
  • Score: 0

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