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Level of need in the population

Background papers: children :: Teenage pregnancy :: Level of need in the population

Medway under–18 and under–16 conception data

Areas of high social disadvantage and deprivation typically correlate with high teenage pregnancy rates for reasons such as low aspirations, poor uptake of services and the cyclical nature of teenage pregnancy. Medway is typical of this trend. Medway is ranked within the 37% most deprived areas nationally,[1] teenage pregnancy rates are also high with rates higher than the South East and England as a whole.

Under–18 conceptions in Medway have fluctuated over recent years (figure 1), but we are experiencing the lowest rate since 1998.

Figure 1: Under--18 conceptions for Medway, South East and England
Figure 1: Under–18 conceptions for Medway, South East and England, 1998-2013

In Medway the number of conceptions resulting in abortion to young people aged under 18 has increased compared to 1998 to 40.4% in 2013, but this figure has decreased in the last couple of years to the lowest since 2005 (figure 2). Medway now has a lower proportion than the England average of 51.1% and the South East average of 52.9%.

Figure 2: The percentage of under--18 conceptions aborted
Figure 2: The percentage of under–18 conceptions aborted, 1998-2013

Under–16 conceptions in Medway are not significantly different from 2001–03 figures (figure 3). The 2011-13 figures show Medway as having 6.4 conceptions per 1,000 females aged 13–15 compared with 8.4 per 1,000 in 2001–03.

Figure 3: Under--16 conceptions
Figure 3: Under–16 conceptions for Medway, South East and England, 2001–2013, 3–year–pooled data

In Medway the percentage of conceptions resulting in abortion to young people under 16 has increased from 52.6% in 2001–03 to 59.8% in 2011–13 (figure 4).

Figure 4: Under--16 abortions
Figure 4: The percentage of under–16 conceptions aborted, 2001–2013, 3–year–pooled data

Whilst the percentage of conceptions resulting in abortion to young people under 16 has increased from 2001–03 figures, the 2011–13 abortion rate for young people under 16 has remained largely unchanged from a few years prior. Considerable work has been undertaken over the last few years to provide high quality Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) and good access to CASH and GUM services. Young people have an increased awareness of abortion as a choice and are more informed about services available to support them.

Medway under–18 conception rates by ward

Teenage pregnancy rates across Medway wards vary greatly, with some wards displaying significantly higher rates than the 2011–13 Medway average of 35.3. In terms of the number of under–18 conceptions the four highest wards are: Gillingham North, Chatham Central, Gillingham South and Luton and Wayfield. As expected these areas also correlate with high levels of deprivation and experience issues such as low income, unemployment, poor health and crime.

Figure 5: U18 conceptions rate ward map
Figure 5: Rate of conceptions per 1,000 females aged 15–17 by ward, 2011–13
Progress to date

There has been encouraging work from Local Authorities across England and Wales with Medway seeing a 29.7% reduction since the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy was launched in 1999 (from 249 to 175). Whilst this is a positive achievement there is work still to do to achieve the target of 50% and continue the downward trend. The establishing of the Medway Sexual Health Network has enabled clinical staff, outreach staff, third sector organisations, school nurses and youth setting staff to develop links that promote multiagency working. The working partnerships between GUM and CaSH providers have been developed and have built on the consultations that have taken place with the public, service users and stakeholders. Continued progress can be achieved with a focussed strategic and policy driven approach, with services being young people friendly, good comprehensive RSE provision across all schools, access to good quality sexual health services and agencies working together to drive the agenda forward.


[1]   Department for Communities and Local Government. English indices of deprivation 2015;