HEADTEACHERS and governors will be left to decide if Oxfordshire’s new school nurses can hand out morning-after pills in advance.

Last week the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended that emergency contraception is provided free and in advance to girls and women up to the age of 25 in case they need it.

In the proposals, Nice said nurses including school nurses and pharmacists should be able to offer free emergency contraceptive pills as part of a push to reduce teenage pregnancy rates in England.

Every secondary school in Oxfordshire is to have its own permanent school nurse based on site under a £1.55m scheme unveiled by the county council.

Councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles, cabinet member for public health, said providing the morning-after pill in advance “will be something that they discuss with the headteachers and governors about what that school wants”.

Council spokesman Owen Morton added: “School nurses – as qualified health professionals – will be in a position to provide sexual health advice, make appropriate referrals and, where supported by the policy of individual schools, to supply emergency contraception on the basis of individual assessments and national guidelines.”

Prof 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.”