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Around 3,000 pharmacies sign up to contraception service

Around 3,000 pharmacies sign up to contraception service

Around 3,000 pharmacies in England have now signed up to provide the NHS Pharmacy Contraception Service, the Government has confirmed.

This comes as health secretary Victoria Atkins said that problem periods, menopause and maternity care would be top priorities under the Government’s women’s health strategy in 2024.

And it follows the expansion of the Pharmacy Contraception Service last month to allow community pharmacies to initiate oral contraception, as well as managing ongoing prescriptions of contraceptive pills.

In an update on the Government’s plans for women’s health for 2024 on Wednesday, the Department of Health and Social Care said almost 3,000 pharmacies had signed up to the service, ‘making access to contraception easier’.

And an NHS England (NHSE) spokesperson told Pulse’s sister title The Pharmacist today that the number of pharmacies providing the service was increasing day by day.

In a speech accompanying the update this week, Ms Atkins also highlighted the role of the Women’s Health Strategy in ‘enabling almost half a million women access to cheaper HRT’ and opening new women’s health hubs

As of April last year, patients have been able to purchase a HRT pre-payment certificate to give them access to listed HRT items over 12 months for the cost of two single prescription charges.

But the health secretary said this week: ‘I absolutely recognise there is more to do’.

Following the speech, Helga Mangion, policy manager at the National Pharmacy Association, (NPA) called for the community pharmacy network to be put ‘at the heart’ of the women’s health strategy.

She said: ‘It’s excellent news that women’s health and wellbeing is receiving the attention it deserves from policymakers. Women are the largest users of pharmacies so we know well how important it is to help them access the advice, health care and medication they need.

‘The Government’s ambition to set up women’s health hubs has the potential to open up health services for them but women risk losing out if we don’t put the network of community pharmacies at the heart of this initiative.

‘Pharmacies are in the centre of communities and should be at the centre of our work to close health inequalities. They already help millions of women every week; we’d be missing a brilliant opportunity if we don’t use the fantastic network of pharmacies we already have.’

In a recent webinar with NHSE, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) encouraged community pharmacy contractors to ‘proactively promote’ the contraception service to their patients.

The webinar also outlined the requirements, top tips and supporting resources for providing the NHS Pharmacy Contraception service.

The service was initially launched amid concerns that community pharmacies would not have the capacity to provide it, and calls to pause the roll-out unless more funding was made available to the sector.

In May, it was announced that an additional £645m investment in community pharmacy in England would go towards the NHS Pharmacy Contraception Service, as well as the Hypertension Case-Finding services, Pharmacy First scheme and investment in IT services.

And in June, The Pharmacist exclusively revealed that 1,748 pharmacies – more than 15% of the community pharmacy network in England – had signed up to provide the contraception service.

A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title The Pharmacist


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