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

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

Currently, a woman wanting to start taking a contraceptive pill can either pay for a specific type of pill at a pharmacy or get it for free by seeing her GP who can issue a prescription.

But the new NHS pilot scheme is the first time women will be able to get the pill at no cost without the need for a doctor’s appointment.

It is part of a drive to get more primary care performed in local pharmacies and not GP surgeries to make it more convenient for patients, as pharmacists are highly trained and more accessible than GPs who are often fully booked.

The move will also alleviate some of the burden on overstretched GPs and free them up to see more patients with more severe health concerns.

Two pharmacies have already registered for scheme

It was reported by the Pharmaceutical Journal that two pharmacies, one in Stoke-on-Trent and one in Portsmouth, have registered for the pilot, however The Telegraph understands that no woman has yet to use the pilot as it is still being set up.

But the plan received approval at the end of September from NHS England pharmacy chiefs and is expected to go live soon with women able to, for the first time, get access to the contraceptive pill without needing to see their GP first.

NHS England previously announced that sites across the country have signed up to Tier one of the NHS community pharmacy contraception management service pilot.

Under this first stage of the project, women were be able to go to their pharmacists for the regular check-ups regarding the pill, which are done annually.

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

It’s expected that this will be rolled out nationwide in early 2023 and that tier 2, which broadens pharmacists powers and removes the need for a GP entirely, is trialled.

Official NHS guidance about the tier 2 pilot states that pharmacists who take part and prescribe the pill will only be able to give out three months’ worth of pills initially.

Patients will eventually be able to get one year worth of pills from pharmacy

After this period the tier 1 protocol will then come into force and a patient can go back to their pharmacist and get a prescription for up to 12 months’ worth 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 to the tune of £18.50 and £3.50, respectively, with the patient not having to pay out any money.

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

Janet Barter, the president of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, said she “fully supports” the move to allow pharmacists to prescribe contraceptive tablets.

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

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

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