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Pharmacists should promote 'non-judgemental' contraceptive services, says charity

The Family Planning Association is encouraging pharmacies to display posters informing women they can talk privately about contraception 

The Family Planning Association is encouraging pharmacists to display posters advertising private contraceptive consultations, as survey results have revealed a third of women are embarrassed to ask for emergency contraception

Pharmacists should promote their "non-judgmental" contraceptive services to women embarrassed about seeking help, a sexual health charity has said.

The Family Planning Association (FPA) encouraged pharmacies to display posters advertising that women could receive a private consultation to discuss their "wider contraceptive needs" for yesterday's (September 15) launch of Sexual Health Week, which is concentrating on emergency contraception. 

Survey results published by the FPA last month revealed that more than one in three women were embarrassed to ask for emergency contraception. Pharmacies should ensure all their staff were "equipped with communication skills" to help women overcome this issue, said the charity. 

It was important to ask "open-ended questions" to give women an opportunity to talk about wider issues and concerns relating to contraception, the charity said. It also advised pharmacists to stay up-to-date with current guidance and be aware of any local schemes providing free contraception to particular groups, it said.

The FPA said pharmacists were in a "unique position" to reduce a perceived stigma about contraception and enable women to "confidently make the best choices for them". 

"Customers of varying ages, cultures and backgrounds have different needs. Be prepared to talk to older people - who might not have been exposed to sexual health messaging - through to young people, and be aware of associated issues like safeguarding and limits of confidentiality," it added.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni agreed it was "vital" the whole pharmacy team was trained to make women feel comfortable and deal with this sensitive issue.

"Visual presence, such as leaflets and posters, is also important as it makes customers aware of the service and more likely to ask for advice," he said.

Anyone who sought emergency contraception from a pharmacist following a contraceptive failure or unprotected sex was acting responsibly, Mr Soni stressed.

Pharmacists can download a campaign pack - including posters, leaflets and tips for engaging with customers - from the FPA's website.

Does your pharmacy team have the skills to provide non-judgemental advice on contraception? 

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I never judge heterosexuals about their contraceptive usage.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

So looking at the top headlines in C & D today - the pharmacist should start reviewing benzos, provide EHC service and include antidepressants in their NMS. Oh great - I'm a single handed pharmacist - where shall I begin? I'm behind on my MUR targets, my dispenser isn't around, so I'm doing the dispensing amid impatient customers, my blister packs need checking, my out-of-stocks need ringing around and my repeat prescriptions from yesterday need to be ready. What a wonderful day! - Not, me thinks.

Lancelot Spratt, Accuracy checking technician

So why haven't you arranged for a replacement dispenser? Instead of moaning about being single handed why not be a professional and arrange cover? That way the jobs that you are doing unnecessarily can be done by the dispenser.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Are you a RPS member?

If yes then call them straight away and see what they have to say.

If not, then on top of all that you are doing today (as in your response above) you are not a professional.

My sympathies with you, hope you get on with it (as we all do, somehow)

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

EHC as a locally enhanced service (supplied under a PGD) would & does enable this. Also, selling EHC would probably cover costs and give some profit in to the bargain

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

All the words look so rosy and touching. But who is going to pay for the extra time spent in consultation and extra space to promote only sexual health?? I'm sure the charity knows that GPs/ Nurses get paid for such consultations and not the Pharmacists.

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