Scottish community pharmacy bridging contraception service launched

As of the 9th of November, all community pharmacies in Scotland began to offer a service that will improve access to contraceptive care across the country.

Under this “bridging contraceptive” service, pharmacies will be able to provide 3 months of an oral contraceptive pill following a consultation to make sure that this is safe and appropriate. This supply will ensure that there is contraceptive cover for those who need it whilst they access their GP or local sexual health clinic to discuss their long-term options.

These temporary supplies are free of charge and can be accessed as a standalone service, as well as being offered to women accessing the existing and extremely successful emergency contraceptive service through community pharmacies.

This is the first step towards a Women’s Health and Wellbeing suite of services to be delivered by community pharmacies, demonstrating the important part that our teams will play in realising the ambition of Scotland’s Women’s Health plan.

CPS CEO Harry McQuillan said:

“Ultimately, this will improve the range of options and ease of access that the women of Scotland have when it comes to contraception, and we are delighted that our network of pharmacies can be part of this important step forward in women’s health.”

Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health Maree Todd said:

“Our UK-leading Women’s Health Plan demonstrates our ambition and determination to see change for women in Scotland, for their health and for their role in society. It’s crucial that we recognise the importance of women in society and a key part of this is prioritising the health of women – it has positive impact for us all. We want Scotland to be a world leader when it comes to women’s health. The introduction of this service will increase the choice for women in the ways in which they can access contraception.

“I would also like to give recognition to pharmacists and pharmacy teams across Scotland who continue to play a fundamental role in helping patients and the wider NHS team by ensuring people get the right care in the right place despite the additional pressures they face. Further enhancing the service the community pharmacy network offer through bridging contraception demonstrates its valuable role in our communities and in helping to address inequalities in health that women are facing.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Nicola Steedman said:

“Until now, pharmacies could only supply emergency contraception and then needed to direct women to their GP practice for longer term contraception options. Providing a temporary supply of the progestogen-only pill within pharmacies will give women more choice over their reproductive health therefore reducing the risk of unplanned pregnancy.

“This is not intended to replace existing services providing contraception, but to widen access and bridge the gap between emergency contraception and longer term contraception choices for women.

“Patients will be advised by pharmacy teams to speak to their GP or local sexual and reproductive health service for ongoing contraception after receiving this temporary supply.”

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