Sex and young people in Glasgow: audit of under–16 reporting in a Young
People’s Sexual Health Service
P. McGough, A. Bigrigg, C. Thow, M. Lamont
The Sandyford Initiative, Glasgow, UK
Recent rulings in court cases involving children have thrown child protection
issues into sharp focus for clinical and non-clinical staff involved in
provision of all clinical services for young people. This is particularly
problematic in the area of sexual health. Clients under sixteen years may have
complex needs and their care can raise ethical and medico-legal questions for
staff. At a sexual and reproductive health centre with a specialised young
people’s service, a ‘reporting form’ was developed for use in clinical
consultations with service clients under 16. After piloting, this form was
introduced and staff training was held to inform all staff of local written
policies on the management of sexually active young people and confidentiality,
guidance on child protection issues, and the new policies for reporting of
consultation with clients under 16. A Clinical Support Group was also instituted
to allow a forum for discussion of difficult individual cases as well as
providing a more general supportive team environment.
The results of the first six weeks of the pilot including age of client and
partners, presenting problems, uptake of condoms, other contraception and
testing, and parental knowledge of the sexual activity, are summarized. Most
clients presenting state they are in relationships of some duration. Most do not
tell their parents of their sexual activity. Most clients initially present
requesting emergency contraception and the inference is that unprotected sexual
intercourse is common in this group of clients. Condom uptake is high in our
service users. The uptake of chlamydia testing is currently low in this group.
The use of additional ongoing contraception was not well documented initially
and this has been an area for further training for staff in our service.
Introduction of an Under-16 reporting form was readily accepted by staff,
especially after user-led modification.
The data collected gives a valuable overview of the type of issues dealt with
in the clinical context and can help to target training and teaching as well as
potentially to highlight child protection issues.