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Contraceptive Pill Available from Pharmacies

Published: 16th November 2023

Millions of women in England will soon be able to access free contraceptive pills by going to their local chemist without having to see a GP.  In a ground-breaking move, the contraceptive pill is set to become more accessible than ever, as it becomes available on the UK high street with no need for a GP visit. This change is part of a larger effort to alleviate the strain on doctors and address record waiting times within the NHS.

Where women choose the combined oestrogen and progestogen pill, they will need a check-up with a pharmacist for their blood pressure and weight. NHS England said it expects ‘almost half a million women’ to be able to access the pill next year without needing to contact their GP first, with the figure rising after that.

NHS primary-care medical director and lead GP in England Dr Claire Fuller said she was “delighted” people would have new and convenient ways of accessing treatments. “Contraception is essential for many women and this is a big step forward in making these services easier for women to access,” she added. Tase Oputu, who chairs the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, also welcomed community-pharmacy teams being able to treat the seven common conditions

With this significant change on the horizon, pharmacies are poised to become primary hubs for contraception services. As pharmacies step into this expanded role, it becomes imperative for them to invest in essential tools that enhance their service offerings and ensure a seamless experience for patients. This includes the important additions of patient weighing scales and digital blood pressure monitors, available for these treatments, as soon as next month.

Investing in Scales:
Accurate measurements are fundamental in healthcare, and having precise scales in pharmacies is essential. With the availability of the contraceptive pill, weight management becomes a critical aspect, as certain contraceptives may have weight-related considerations. Pharmacists can play a proactive role in ensuring patient safety by having reliable scales on hand for regular weight checks and consultations.

seca 875 Class III Electronic Flat Scale

Seca 875 Class III Approved Scale designed for portable use. Very light flat scales with integrated display, Tap-on automatic switch on for mobile use in clinic or pharmacy. Stable and suitable for persons weighing up to 200 kilograms.

seca 769 Electronic Column Scale

Versatile, low-maintenance and site-independent with economic battery operation. With its transport castors, the column scale is also easy to move around. The seca 769 is equipped with several intelligent functions.

Blood Pressure Monitors for Pharmacy use:
Monitoring blood pressure is another vital aspect of healthcare that pharmacists can now integrate into their services. Some contraceptives may impact blood pressure, and having convenient access to blood pressure checkers in pharmacies allows for regular monitoring and timely interventions. This proactive approach not only enhances patient care but also aligns with the broader goal of easing the strain on GP services.

A&D Medical UM-211 Dual Measurement Blood Pressure Monitor

UM-211 is designed for multipurpose use in hospitals. This model is available for dual measurement mode (auscultatory mode with use of the stethoscope and oscillometric mode).

Omron M6 Comfort Blood Pressure Monitor with Cuff

The New M6 comes complete with a Comfort Cuff and is able to detect an irregular pulse which is suggestive of Atrial Fibrillation (Afib), it features an LCD digital display, large internal memory and easy controls. With battery life capable of around 1000 regular measurements and detection of irregular heartbeat.

Prescription figures for 2022/23 suggest there were almost three million prescriptions for the combined pill and more than four million for the mini pill. Pharmacies need to sign up for the new service, meaning it will not be available immediately everywhere in England but as more pharmacies join the scheme, the nhs.uk web page will be updated so women can check which locations offer the service.

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