Primary care trusts have been urged not to use the recession as an excuse to cut funding for sexual health services.

Family Planning Association chief executive Julie Bentley said unplanned pregnancies were likely to increase in the economic downturn, particularly among teenagers who have lowered their aspirations after failing to find work.

Now was the time to invest in long term solutions to reducing unplanned pregnancies, she told a Labour Party conference fringe event.

She said: “PCTs need to think about longer lasting contraception. Otherwise they’ll pay the cost later in abortions and maternity services when there’s an increase in unplanned pregnancies.”

Many PCTs were diverting money away from sexual health services, she said.

She also called for equal attention to be given to the 78 per cent of unintended pregnancies among women who are not teenagers. “Sexual health services are not geared towards older people,” she said.