Pharmacists granted the power to hand out the Pill

Pharmacists are to initiate long-term contraception for girls and women aged 13-25 under a scheme on the Isle of Wight.

Oral contraception: pharmacist prescribing scheme to be monitored (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)
Oral contraception: pharmacist prescribing scheme to be monitored (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)

Anyone given emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) will be offered a 28-day supply of the progesterone-only pill desogestrel (Cerazette).

The supply will be free of charge under a patient group direction, a legal framework that allows non-medical health professionals to supply and administer medicines. Pharmacists offering desogestrel will highlight the benefits of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs).

Girls and women receiving the service will be referred to a GP or sexual health service for full assessment and ongoing contraception, community pharmacy lead for Isle of Wight PCT Kevin Noble told GP.

The scheme will focus on improving uptake of LARCs in line with NICE guidance. It will be launched in October in 10 of the 30 pharmacies on the island. The pharmacies selected already have high levels of EHC provision, Mr Noble said.

The PCT will monitor engagement with the service and the postcode and age of users. It will also examine attendance rates at the appointments to which patients are referred and uptake of LARCs at these appointments, Mr Noble said.

A pilot enabling pharmacists to offer oral contraceptives was launched in three pharmacies in Lambeth and Southwark PCTs, in London, in December 2009.

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