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RCN updates position on emergency contraception

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The Royal College of Nursing has published an updated position statement on the role of school nurses in providing emergency contraception services in education settings.

The document replaces an earlier version published in 2006.

The RCN said it believed school nurses were “ideally placed” for providing sexual health and contraceptive advice because of their relationship with young people.

But it also notes that there are “several important issues” for school nurses to consider when they are consulted by young people under 16 years of age about emergency contraceptives.

It states school nurses:

  • must ensure that the young person understands the potential risks, benefits and alternatives of the treatment including efficacy, adverse effects, interactions, the need for additional contraceptive precautions and advice given are legally obliged to discuss the value of parental/carer support
  • young people should be encouraged to inform their parent/carer of the consultation and the school nurse should explore the reasons if the young person is unwilling to do so. If however, following counselling, the young person does not want to involve their parent/carer, the school nurse will respect their confidentiality
  • should assess whether the young person’s physical or mental health, or both, is likely to suffer if they do not receive emergency contraception
  • must consider whether the young person’s best interests would require the provision of emergency contraception without parental consent
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