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Quarter of England pharmacies signed up to offer new contraception service

The government has revealed that most pharmacies in England have not signed up to deliver the relaunched pharmacy contraception service. 

“Almost 3,000 pharmacies” have signed up to offer the contraception service so far, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) revealed last week (January 17).

The news accompanied a DH announcement that it is prioritising menopause, maternity care, “problem periods, women’s health research and support for domestic and sexual abuse victims” as part of its women’s health strategy this year.

Read more: Revealed: ‘Over 90%’ of pharmacies signed up to deliver Pharmacy First

The contraception service was relaunched in December and now allows community pharmacies in England to initiate oral contraception, with both ongoing supply and initiation of the pill combined into one service.

Of the 11,414 English community pharmacies that the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA)  reported were active in October – its most recent data - these “almost 3,000 pharmacies” make up roughly 26% of all pharmacies in the country.

Read more: Pharmacy First, contraception and BP check services ‘bundled’ from 2025

Meanwhile, pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom last week announced that “over 90%” of pharmacies had signed up to deliver the new Pharmacy First service.

But contractors were told in November that from March 2025, all pharmacies offering Pharmacy First must also provide the expanded hypertension and contraception services.

 

Contraception service controversy

 

When the expanded service was announced, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) said that the government and NHSE had “rejected” its bid to increase fees for the service.

At the time, a DH spokesperson told C+D that the agreement on the deal was unanimous.

Previous iterations of the pharmacy contraception service have also come under fire from the sector over a lack of funding.

Read more: DH and NHSE ‘rejected’ contraception service fee uplift, says CPE

When tier one launch of the service was launched, Day Lewis announced that it would pause its rollout of the scheme until "progress" was made with funding and London LPCs urged their 1,498 pharmacies to opt out.

At the time, the NHSBSA confirmed that just 456 out of the around 11,500 community pharmacies in England (4%) signed up for the new service within the first two days after sign-up opened in April.

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