NHS to offer the contraceptive pill from pharmacy counters from December
Women in England will be able to get the contraceptive pill from their pharmacy from next week.
In a change to the system, female patients won’t have to make an appointment with their GP surgery to get a prescription. Here’s how the new scheme will work:
What is changing?
From December, pharmacies across England will begin offering a new service to increase the ways in which women can obtain contraception.
The roll-out is part of a wider Government plan to make it quicker and easier for people to access healthcare on their high street alongside relieving the burden on surgeries and GPs.
Anyone who needs the pill will be able to ask for it from a participating pharmacy – without a GP referral or appointment – although patients can still be referred by their surgery or local sexual health clinic where needed.
NHS England estimates the change will free up millions of GP appointments.
How will it work?
The new service will be open to women who wish to start taking contraception or who are already taking the pill.
A pharmacist will need to carry out a confidential consultation, similar to that used by the GP, to reach a ‘shared decision’ about the first supply of the pill or to maintain ongoing tablets.
Supplies of oral contraception will continue to be free and all pharmacists involved in the new roll-out will be properly trained before taking on the role.
Phamacists will also need to sign up in order to offer the service, so it may not be available everywhere from the start of December.
What checks will patients need?
For a combined oral hormonal contraception, a BMI (body mass index) and blood pressure measurement will need to be taken as part of the consultation at the pharmacy.
A patient can also offer their own weight, height and blood pressure measurements – however, all ‘self-reported’ measures will be recorded as such.
No checks are needed for the mini pill.
Feedback from pilot schemes trialling the system over the last two years have, says the Government, been very positive, with patients reporting a quicker and more efficient service.