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"Pregnant" UCL medical students to protest closure of London sexual health centre today

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A group of UCL Medical School students is set to protest the closure of a north London sexual health centre outside Islington Town Hall this evening.

The students, who will be donning “pregnant” bellies to demonstrate their need for easy access to contraception, will be presenting their 6,000+ signature strong petition to Islington Council at 6.45pm today.

The Margaret Pyke Centre - an ‘outstanding’ sexual health clinic and centre of excellence in research and training - is slated for closure.

The centre, near King’s Cross, sees 400 patients (96% women) per week, and offers services including contraception, smear tests, pregnancy and STI tests, psychosexual counselling and abortion referral and advice.

It also runs training programmes in contraception and sexual and reproductive health care, as part of University College London’s Institute for Women's Health.

In February 2015 the Care Quality Commission described it as an ‘outstanding’ service.

The petition, which has just over 6,200 signatures, is calling on Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust to “to prioritise women's needs and keep the Margaret Pyke Centre open.”

It states that “For over 40 years, the Margaret Pyke Centre near King's Cross has been providing sensitive and dedicated sexual and reproductive healthcare to women, giving clients the time and space they need to talk through their choices and get the high quality care every woman is entitled to.

“Now, the Centre is under threat of closure, which would be a huge blow to the lives, health, wellbeing and happiness of all the women who rely on the expertise and compassion of the Margaret Pyke staff. It would also send a message that women's health isn't important, and that contraceptive services are dispensable.”

The UCL students will be joined by students from Camden School for Girls, one of whom, Molly, says: "Saving the Margaret Pyke Centre is something everyone should care about and be involved in.

“Having access to the services the Margaret Pyke Centre delivers to the standard that they deliver them should be something that every woman has. Closing down the centre would seriously affect the lives of thousands of women and children in the area."

Margaret Pyke Centre service users and local GPs will speak about their personal experiences of the centre and why it is so vital to women. 

Dr Jayne Kavanagh, a sexual health doctor who has worked at the Margaret Pyke Centre for 18 years, says: “It would be a horrible mistake to break up the Margaret Pyke Centre. This is a place that women know and trust and where they get an outstanding quality of service, as well as a place that local GPs rely on for their contraceptive training and to see patients with complex needs.” 

The petition to save the Margaret Pyke Centre (#SaveMPC) can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/central-and-north-west-london-nhs-trust-prevent-the-closure-of-the-margaret-pyke-centre

 

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