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  • Writer's pictureHealthwatch Wokingham

Get the contraceptive pill free at your local pharmacy from December!

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Women across Wokingham Borough will be able to get a first prescription of the contraceptive pill and repeat orders without having to see a GP, from 1st December. This will free up GP appointments across the borough and millions of GP appointments across the UK.

If women opt for the combined oestrogen and progestogen pill, they will have a check-up with a pharmacist to record their blood pressure and weight.


No checks are needed for the mini-pill (progestogen-only), which is also the case in other settings, NHS England said.


How does the service work?

Anyone needing the pill can access it through participating pharmacies without a referral from their GP, though they can be referred by their GP or sexual health clinic.


The pharmacist will offer a confidential consultation and reach a shared decision with the person about their first supply of the pill, or the ongoing supply of their current oral contraception.


The supply of oral contraception will be free.


What checks will I need?

For a combined oral hormonal contraception, a BMI and blood pressure measurement will need to be taken. These can be taken as part of the consultation within the pharmacy.


A person accessing the service may also offer their own weight, height and blood pressure measurements. Any self-reported measurements will need to be recorded as such.


Prescription figures for 2022/23 suggest there were almost 3 million prescriptions for the combined pill and more than 4 million for the mini pill.


The rollout is part of the NHS and government’s primary care access recovery plan, announced by the head of the NHS and the Prime Minister in May, which committed to making it quicker and easier for millions of people to access healthcare on their high street.


William Pett, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Research at Healthwatch England, said: “Women across England will welcome the convenience of getting the contraceptive pill at a local pharmacy. Being able to see your GP in a timely manner remains the public’s top concern. If this initiative is effectively communicated and delivered, it will make a real difference to patients and relieve the pressure on hard-pressed services.


“There could be potential problems, such as pharmacists not being able to see enough of people’s GP records or the ability of different communities and areas to access the new service. However, if evaluated well, the NHS will be able to ensure that this promising new service really works for patients.”


At present, those wanting access to the pill still have to make an appointment with your GP until the new service starts in December.

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