Women will be able to get the pill on the NHS without seeing a doctor

Women will be able to be prescribed the birth control pill for free on the NHS without seeing a GP for the first time in a new pilot scheme.

Currently, a woman wishing to start taking birth control pills can either pay for a specific type of pill from a pharmacy or obtain it for free by consulting her GP who can issue her a prescription.

But the new NHS pilot program is the first time women will be able to get the pill for free without needing a doctor’s appointment.

This is part of a move to get more primary care from local pharmacies and not doctor’s surgeries to make it more convenient for patients, as pharmacists are highly skilled and more accessible than GPs who are often fully booked. .

The move will also ease some of the burden on overwhelmed GPs and free them up to see more patients with more serious health conditions.

Two pharmacies have already signed up for the program

It has been reported by the Pharmaceutical Journal that two pharmacies, one in Stoke-on-Trent and one in Portsmouth, have signed up for the pilot, but The Telegraph understands that no women have yet used the pilot as it is still being configured.

But the plan received approval at the end of September from pharmacy chiefs at NHS England and is set to be rolled out soon with women able, for the first time, to access the birth control pill without needing to see their GP beforehand.

NHS England previously announced that sites across the country have signed up for the first tier of the NHS Community Pharmacy Contraception Management Service pilot.

As part of this first stage of the project, the women were able to go to their pharmacist for regular checks on the pill, which are done annually.

There are said to be 281 pharmacies registered for this part of the project in England, including in Derby, Reading, North London and Lincoln.

This is expected to be rolled out nationwide in early 2023 and Tier 2, which expands the powers of pharmacists and removes the need for a GP entirely, to be trialled.

Official NHS guidelines for the Tier 2 pilot state that pharmacists who take part and prescribe the pill will initially only be able to dispense three months’ worth of pills.

Patients will eventually be able to get a year’s worth of pills from pharmacies

After this period, the Level 1 protocol will come into effect and a patient can return to their pharmacist and obtain a prescription for up to 12 months of tablets.

Each person who uses the Tier 2 service will have a consultation with a pharmacist, have their BMI measured and also have their blood pressure taken.

The NHS will cover the cost of the consultation and prescription up to £18.50 and £3.50 respectively, with the patient not having to pay any money.

Gareth Jones, director of corporate affairs for the National Pharmacy Association, called the pilot “a landmark moment in improving access to sexual health services and women’s health.”

Janet Barter, chair of the School of Sexual and Reproductive Health, said she “fully supports” the decision to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control tablets.

“The fragmented sexual and reproductive health system is notoriously difficult for women to navigate, and successive cuts to public health budgets have made it even more difficult for women to access the contraception they need,” said she told the Pharmaceutical Journal. .

“This decision will make it easier for women to access essential contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies and could also relieve unnecessary pressure on GPs.”

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