The Department of Health and Social Care has revealed almost 3,000 contractors have signed up to the expanded NHS England Pharmacy Contraception Service.
The figure was included in a statement published on 17 January 2024, announcing the launch of the government’s women’s health priorities for 2024.
Speaking at the Women’s Health Summit in London, held on 17 January 2024 to mark the second year of the Women’s Health Strategy for England and launch the 2024 priorities, health secretary Victoria Atkins said: “From December , oral contraception is now available on more high streets, using our pharmacists to their full potential — making it faster, simpler, and fairer for women to access this healthcare.”
Tier 1 of the Pharmacy Contraception Service was first piloted in 2021 and commissioned by the NHS as an advanced service to run from April 2023, allowing community pharmacies to continue the ongoing supply of oral contraception initiated in general practice or sexual health clinics.
Tier 2 of the service, which includes both initiation and ongoing supply of oral contraception, was first piloted in 2022.
In November 2023, NHS England announced that the pharmacy contraception service would be expanded to allow all pharmacists to initiate patients on oral contraception from 1 December 2023, as part of its ‘Delivery plan for recovering access to primary care’.
Later the same month, Community Pharmacy England announced that all pharmacies wanting to provide the contraception service would have to provide both tiers from the end of February 2024.
Top priorities to be tackled under the Women’s Health Strategy in 2024 include menstrual problems and menopause, maternity care, birth trauma support, and support for domestic and sexual abuse victims. There will be an investment of £50m into research to tackle maternity health disparities, the government said.