Community pharmacies in England to carry out contraception checks to free up GP time

NHS England says the oral contraception scheme will relieve burden on primary care while improving access for patients.
Contraceptive pills

Community pharmacies in England will be able to offer oral contraceptive management as part of a year-long pilot that began on 30 September 2021.

Pharmacies within seven primary care networks (PCNs) have been invited to take part in the first stage of the pilot, which will enable people who are already using hormonal oral contraceptives to present at a community pharmacy for a repeat supply, which could be issued following a clinical consultation with a pharmacist.

Contractors will be able to claim £18.50 per consultation and a payment of £3.50 per supply of ongoing contraception. A one-off payment of £685 per pharmacy wil be provided to cover the costs of setting up the service.

Patients can self-refer to a community pharmacy, or be referred — with consent — from their GP or sexual health clinic.

The pilot will also explore the sharing of data (with patient consent) between the pharmacy and the GP-held patient record.

In a statement, published on 30 September 2021, NHS England said the aim of the pilot was to “relieve the burden on wider primary care and sexual health clinics and provide improved access for patients”.

The service could extend to the initiation of oral contraception by community pharmacists, as well as management and later initiation of long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as implants, vaginal rings, injections or patches.

Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, commented: “People seeking this support for contraception can be assured that pharmacists are trained to deliver contraceptive services, as seen recently with the move to offer a progestogen-only pill over the counter at pharmacies.

“The public will be able to visit a pharmacy without an appointment and receive support and advice from a trained professional, whilst also reducing pressure on general practice and the NHS.”

In May 2021, The Pharmaceutical Journal reported that contraception monitoring services were being considered for community pharmacies in England.

At the same time, discussions were underway around the idea of a proposed sore throat test and treat (STTT) service for community pharmacies in England, as has been in place in Wales since autumn 2018.

The seven PCN areas taking part in the pilot are: South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw; North East Lincolnshire; Hull Clinical Commissioning Group within Humber, Coast and Vale; Cumbria and North East; Lancashire and South Cumbria; Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System; and Staffordshire.

Meanwhile, community pharmacies in Scotland will be able to initiate a three-month supply of the oral contraception desogestrel as a form of bridging contraception from 9 November 2021.

READ MORE: For pharmacy, providing oral contraception should be just the beginning.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, October 2021, Vol 307, No 7954;307(7954)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.108660

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