Morning-after pill rules to be relaxed for young people
Both male and female condoms should also be readily accessible at school and at places such as youth groups, according to health experts
Rules surrounding the morning-after pill should be relaxed to allow young people to be given emergency contraception to keep at home in case they need it, under new NHS guidance.
Young women under the age of 25 should also be "encouraged to consider and choose a suitable form of contraception for their future needs", the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has recommended.
Under the guidance, free condoms, including female condoms, would be "readily accessible" for young men and women at places such as "schools, colleges and youth clubs".
Emergency contraception would be available in advance for the first time for those on the pill or using condoms in case either failed.
The new guidance is aimed at cutting the high numbers of unwanted teenage pregnancies across England.
Anne Weyman, chair of the independent committee that developed the guidance and former chief executive of the Family Planning Association (FPA), said most teenagers who become pregnant "do not plan to do so."
She said nearly half of all pregnancies among 15 to 18-year-olds end with an abortion.
"The good news is that the number of under-18s becoming pregnant is falling. But we really need to build on this recent progress because England still has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe."
Under the plans, suitably qualified nurses (including school nurses) and pharmacists should be allowed to dispense free emergency contraceptive pills in accordance with patient group directions (PGDs) without the need for a prescription.
Pharmacists, who can charge £25 for the morning after pill, should be able to dispense it free of charge.
It also said health professionals must be aware that they can provide under 16s with it "without parental knowledge or consent, in accordance with best practice guidance".
Health professionals who are unwilling or unable to provide the emergency contraception should then provide details of other local services where they can be seen urgently.
Young women should also be told of places they can obtain free, confidential pregnancy tests with same-day results.
Professor Mike Kelly, director of the centre for public health at Nice, said: "It is really important that sexual health services offering information and advice can be found in places where young people have access to them.
"Evidence clearly shows that the availability of contraception reduces the rate of unwanted pregnancies. Local planners and providers of services must make sure that what they offer is right for their area."
Additional reporting by Press Association
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
General election: Conservatives mocked online over Boris Johnson's claim of SNP 'jockalypse'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...