Pharmacies should be allowed to provide contraception and fit intrauterine devices (IUDs) in a bid to tackle unplanned pregnancies, says a report from MPs.
The cross-party inquiry of MPs into why terminations have risen over the past decade concluded that CCGs should commission providers such as pharmacies to widen access to long- and short-acting contraception, particularly in older women.
The report cited 2011 DH figures that showed abortion rates have risen 7.7% since 2001, with a 10% rise in abortion rates in women aged 30 to 34 years over the past three years.
They challenged the ‘patchy’ provision of emergency contraception in England, stating that the introduction of a national enhanced service for emergency contraception would be vital in ‘helping to minimise and even removing the chance of geographic inequalities in terms of access.’
It said CCGs should be set minimum requirements for contraception provision, including the prioritisation of providing long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs), and train more healthcare professionals in the provision of short- and long-term contraceptive methods.
The report concluded: ‘Pharmacies have been developed as a valuable resource in terms of emergency contraception and condom provision, but they also need to be promoted as a resource for better provision of regular and longer term contraceptive methods. For instance, increasing capacity to provide emergency IUD fitting when women present at services for emergency contraception, should be prioritised.’
The inquiry committee included MPs from the Labour party, Conservative party and Liberal Democrat party, and representatives from the 2020health think tank.