MINISTERS have been urged by a health group to consider allowing the morning-after pill to be available in schools.

Nurses could dispense condoms and emergency contraception for school children, which would help reduce teenage pregnancy rates, according to the Scottish Sexual Health Lead Clinicians Group.

Holyrood's Health Committee is holding an inquiry into teenage pregnancy and what action can be taken to reduce it.

In a written submission, the clinicians group said: "A relatively small investment in more school nurses and admin would bring a very generous return.

"The potential for the school nursing service to make an impact is restricted by lack of finance for posts and also timidity on the part of government and local authorities – why is emergency contraception not available in schools?

"Why are condoms and contraception not accessible? Vaccination against a sexually transmitted infection (HPV) is given in schools – why can't pregnancy and other STIs be prevented?"

The group added that the Scottish Government should "give consideration to the availability of certain interventions in schools, particularly in rural areas and areas with higher teenage pregnancies."

Figures published in June showed a key target for reducing pregnancies among under-16s was missed. Ministers had hoped to cut the pregnancy rate to 6.8 pregnancies per 1000 girls by 2010. However, the pregnancy rate for that year was 7.1 per 1000 – the same as it had been in 2009.

NHS Fife was shown to have the highest rate among under-16s and under-18s.

The Government's policy does not support providing emergency contraception in schools. School nurses are required to direct pupils to sexual health clinics.

John Deighan, the parliamentary officer for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: "They are promoting the behaviour that causes the problem and this simply pours more fuel on the flames."