Church stops health centre giving out contraceptives

A health centre in Derby that was set up with funding meant to reduce teenage pregnancy has been told that it cannot dispense contraceptives.

The Revive Healthy Living Centre — a scheme funded under the Government’s £42m New Deal for Communities Scheme in Derby — was built on former Catholic Church-owned land. But it now emerges that a covenant was imposed on the sale of the land by the Church saying that any future user could not even give out advice on contraceptives, let alone dispense them.

Peter Ballard, chairman of Derwent Community Team, which allocates New Deal money, said he believed that the covenant meant the Primary Care Trust, which occupies space in the health centre, could not give out advice on contraceptives. The Catholic Diocese of Nottingham agreed that preventing giving out contraceptives or advice on artificial birth control would be in line with the covenants it places on land.

Mr Ballard said: “I personally believe if the covenant on the land says you can’t provide contraception – and that would go down to providing advice as well because that goes with it. It would go totally against the Church’s view.”

But Derby Primary Care Trust denied that the covenant prevents it giving out advice. A spokesman told the Derby Telegraph: “Whilst contraceptives cannot be given, the centre is not banned from giving safe sex advice.”

A spokesman for the PCT said that they had been aware of the covenant at the time of the purchase, but the land represented the best location, size and value for money at the time.

The spokesman said: “The PCT was informed that while we could not give contraception out on the actual premises, we could ‘prescribe’ contraception for patients to pick up from the local pharmacy, and this was considered an acceptable compromise.”