Locations of 44 pharmacies piloting NHS contraception service in England
Forty-four pharmacies in England are now signed up to pilot the NHS Community Pharmacy Contraception Management Service, allowing patients greater access to ongoing oral contraception.
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has confirmed the location of the pharmacies involved in the pilot, which was initially launched across seven primary care network (PCNs) areas in September.
The list of pharmacy sites signed up to offer the service will be updated regularly, NHSE&I wrote on the pilot’s website page – which was last updated last week (January 7).
NHSE&I has not yet confirmed the location of participating pharmacy sites in the south west of England, the midlands and London.
The service was initially expected to run for one calendar year, but in October Ed Waller, NHSE&I director for primary care strategy and NHS contracts, told Pharmacy Show delegates it would be trialled for at least two years.
The pilot aims to create more capacity in primary care and sexual health clinics by making ongoing access to oral contraception available through community pharmacies.
Pilot feedback: COVID-19 boosters taken priority
Bobat Pharmacy in Portsmouth, Hampshire started delivering the service in October last year.
However, “uptake has been slightly on the slow side”, pharmacist and managing director Miqdad Master told C+D last week.
Mr Master believes “this is purely because the focus of the entire NHS is on COVID-19”.
“We are working closely with our local surgeries, who are very excited about the concept and feel we can make this a popular service, giving patients the option to have their coil check either at the GP surgery or pharmacy,” he added.
As patients can self-refer or be referred from their GP surgery, Mr Master said the pilot scheme “is an excellent example of patients who can be seen in a community pharmacy and will continue to receive the excellent care they would normally get from the GP surgery”.
Supplying contraception under a patient group direction also “gives patients the motivation to spend time and come into the pharmacy for a formal review”, Mr Master added. “We are keen to continue providing the service and hope it will gain momentum with time.”
Meanwhile Ellie Bennett, managing director at Wicker pharmacy in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, told C+D yesterday (January 10) that the pharmacy received the specification for the pilot at the end of September 2021.
Ms Bennett said the pharmacy was initially planning to start the service in December 2021 or January this year but could not do so because “all our resources have been directed to booster jabs and more recently keeping our services running despite COVID-19 related staff absences”.
Service must be “promoted through NHS”
Pharmacist Priya Littler also told C+D yesterday that the uptake of the service at the Guildhall Walk branch of Lalys Pharmacy in Portsmouth has been slow since it was launched in December 2021.
“We are hoping that the patients who have been given information about this [service] will return when they are next due a repeat supply, instead of going through the usual routes,” Ms Litter said.
She feels the "great service" would benefit from being “promoted throughout the NHS, informing patients of which pharmacies are participating so they can either self-refer” or be referred by other healthcare professionals..
She added: “We are definitely keen to continue, with the goal to move onto tier 2 in the near future."