NHS Pharmacy Contraception Service Pilot – access to oral contraception

NHS community pharmacies are an accessible and convenient place for people to receive advice and support for contraception. We are testing the option of people being able to have a confidential consultation with a community pharmacist to both request a first-time prescription of the contraceptive pill, and access their ongoing supply of oral contraception directly from their pharmacist, rather than from their general practice, sexual health clinic or equivalent.

Pharmacies which can offer an initial supply or oral contraception. This service is for people who are not currently taking an oral contraceptive pill.

Pharmacies which can offer a repeat supply. This service is for people who are already taking the oral contraceptive pill.

What the service will provide

A person may self-refer or be referred by their general practice, sexual health clinic or equivalent to a participating pharmacy to continue their contraception management in a community pharmacy setting. The pharmacist will offer a confidential consultation and as part of that will reach a shared decision on the appropriate supply of oral contraception ensuring clinical appropriateness.

How people access the service

People can access the service by one of the following routes:

  • offered by the community pharmacy team
  • self-refer to a community pharmacy
  • referred by their general practice as they have requested a repeat prescription, and a review is needed
  • referred by their general practice as they have been identified as requiring an appointment to discuss the initial supply of a contraceptive pill
  • referred from a sexual health clinic.

To be eligible to access this service a person must either:

  • require a clinical check appointment before further supplies of an ongoing oral contraceptive are authorised or
  • wish to discuss the initial supply of a contraceptive pill.

People who wish to consult another healthcare provider for contraception support are still free to do so.

People being referred into this service must have already agreed to be referred to community pharmacy as part of the pilot.

The aim of the pilot

The aim of this pilot is to create additional capacity in primary care and sexual health clinics and improve access for patients.

Objectives:

  1. To test a model for community pharmacy teams to continue, review and supply the provision of contraception supplies initiated in primary care or sexual health clinics.
  2. To test a model of initiation of hormonal oral contraceptives in community pharmacy.
  3. To test an integrated pathway between existing services and community pharmacies to enable greater choice and access
  4. Wider access to services and support for high-risk communities and vulnerable patients.
  5. To identify a data set that should be shared with the community pharmacy to support the referral process and feedback loop to the GP-held patient record where appropriate (with appropriate consent).

Following positive evaluation, the pilot may expand to include management of Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) such as implants, vaginal rings, injections and patches via a community pharmacy. Intra-uterine devices and systems (IUDs/IUSs) are not included as part of this pilot.