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Last Updated: Monday, 9 February, 2004, 15:27 GMT
Warning over clingfilm 'condoms'
Some young couples cannot afford condoms
Cash-strapped teenagers are using clingfilm and crisp packets as condoms because they cannot afford the real thing, say experts.

Sexual health experts say these improvised contraceptives not only do not work - but do not offer protection against disease.

The Family Planning Association is calling for more government money for free contraceptives.

Consultant Peter Greenhouse said: "This happens when people are desperate."

Mr Greenhouse, who also set up the first integrated sexual health clinic in Ipswich in 1991 and is now based at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, said that such practices were common in the UK's poorest areas.

These young people are so poverty stricken they cannot even afford the bus fare to get into town, so how can they afford condoms?
Mr Peter Greenhouse, consultant in sexual health
He said: "The use of crisp packets and cling film is something anyone who has been working in sexual health for any period of time knows.

"These young people are so poverty stricken they cannot even afford the bus fare to get into town, so how can they afford condoms?

"The message about sexually transmitted diseases has got through to teenagers but they don't have the money to implement the advice.

Low spending

Mr Greenhouse works at the city's Milne Centre for Sexual Health turns away 550 people a week.

The city has less than half the average number of sexual health doctors and nurses working in the rest of the UK.

He said: "Some areas such as Bristol are struggling where spending is historically dangerously low compared to other parts of the country.

"We cannot stay in this poverty trap. Young people need access to clinics and need to be aware of the failure rate of various contraceptives and advised that the condom is not always the most economical or effective form."

The Family Planning Association wants to see condoms freely available in doctors' surgeries throughout the country.

A spokeswoman backed calls for better funding for clinics.

The government has ordered a review of the modernisation of sexual health clinics in the wake of a highly critical report by the Health Select Committee last year.

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