February 9, 2010
TEENAGE girls in Birmingham are being offered shopping vouchers to have the controversial HPV cervical cancer jab, it can be revealed today.
If they have the jab the teenagers each get £45 worth of Love2Shop store vouchers.
But the vouchers for jabs scheme was branded “bribery” by the mother of one teenage girl, while another described it as “unethical coercion.”
It is being offered by cash-strapped NHS bosses in north and east Birmingham, where only a third of eligible girls have been vaccinated.
They are spending £22,500 on the scheme, targeting 500 teenagers in a bid to protect them from the disease which killed 27-year-old TV personality Jade Goody.
One mum, who wants to remain anonymous, said her 17-year-old daughter was offered vouchers after making a decision to not have the jab. “This sort of coercion is unethical and will deter teenagers from deciding what they really want if money is involved,” said the mum. “I am appalled and think it is also wasting huge amounts of NHS cash that could go towards lifesaving cancer drugs or operations.”
Another concerned mum, Helen Neuenhaus, from Great Barr, has been battling to get her 16-year-old daughter Emily vaccinated when she was missed off the list.
“I can’t get the vaccine for Emily for love nor money,” claimed the 45-year-old PR manager. “They have made a mess of the whole situation but I don’t think bribery and corruption is the way forward. It also sends the wrong signal that if you wait and don’t have the jab, you can get offered vouchers.”
Bosses at NHS East and North (BEN) chose not to give the injections in schools like other areas, but at GP surgeries instead, causing confusion and some teenagers falling into a loophole of not being vaccinated.
Sally Brooks, spokeswoman for BEN, said: “We are committed to driving up attendances so are using a more innovative and proactive approach.
“The vaccine is given over six months in three injections.
“For each appointment, a young woman will receive gift vouchers. If she attends all three, this will amount to a possible total of £45 in Love2Shop vouchers.”
Figures show only a third of girls in the north and east of the city have received a full course of HPC. This compares to 90 per cent of girls protected just a few miles away in Sandwell and Solihull.