Nine community pharmacies in Portsmouth have signed up to deliver tier 2 services under the Community Pharmacy Contraception Service pilot scheme, the largest number in one city in England.
Portsmouth, along with Stoke, was the first place in England to pilot the second tier of the service in October 2022, which allows pharmacists to initiate the oral contraceptive pill, using a patient group direction (PGD), without patients having to visit their GP first.
Initially, just one pharmacy in Portsmouth and one in Stoke were registered to offer the service, but Bobat Pharmacy, and eight branches of Laly’s Pharmacy in Portsmouth, will now offer the second tier service.
Fourteen of the city’s community pharmacies took part in tier one of the pharmacy contraception service pilot, which began in 2021, allowing pharmacists to provide repeat prescriptions for oral contraception if it had previously been prescribed by another clinician. The service was introduced as an advanced service as part of the community pharmacy contractual framework from spring 2023, with the 14 pharmacies continuing to offer the service.
Raj Laly, director of Laly’s Pharmacy, which operates ten pharmacies in Portsmouth, said: “Everyone is aware that all NHS services are having to constantly evaluate how they spend their time and resources.
“By helping making this scheme a success for oral contraception, it frees up the time for sexual health clinics and GP surgeries to focus on supporting other methods, such as implants, coils and contraceptive injections.”
Tania Cork, chief operating officer of Community Pharmacy Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent — the other city where the tier 2 pilot began — said that seven pharmacies were now offering the service across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent, with another four pharmacies due to start soon.
To be able to offer tier 2 of the contraception service, pharmacies must have completed a minimum of ten consultations under tier 1 of the service.
NHS England (NHSE) figures, updated on 8 September 2023, show that 34 pharmacy sites across England are now running tier 2 services, with the NHSE webpage for the service saying that “pharmacy sites will sign up to deliver the pilot service on an ongoing basis”.
The scheme in Portsmouth has been delivered as part of a partnership between the local pharmaceutical committee, the NHS under Health and Care Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council.
Matthew Winnington, cabinet member for health, wellbeing and social care at Portsmouth City Council, said: “Portsmouth has a significantly higher abortion rate than the rest of England, so it makes perfect sense for free oral contraception to be more convenient for our residents. I am looking forward to seeing how this service continues to improve accessibility, increases capacity for GP practices and reduces unplanned pregnancies for Portsmouth.”