Millions of women will be able to get contraceptive pills on the high street without having to see a GP under new NHS plans.
From next month, women in England will be able to get a first prescription for the pill by visiting their local pharmacy.
They will need to have a check-up with a pharmacist to record their blood pressure and weight. Women who are considered too overweight or whose blood pressure is high, putting them at greater risk of blood clots on the combined pill, may be referred to their GP for further checks.
The move will give more choice about where to get the pill and forms a package of measures aimed at freeing up 10 million GP appointments by next winter.
Pharmacists will also offer more blood pressure checks to at-risk patients.
And from early next year, patients will also be able to receive treatment for seven common conditions directly at a pharmacy, without a GP appointment or prescription.
From next month, women in England who start taking contraceptives will be able to get their first prescription without having to see their GP, under NHS reforms announced today. Instead, they will only need to have a check-up with a pharmacist to record their blood pressure and weight. In a bid to ease demand for GP consultations, pharmacies will also increase the number of blood pressure checks they offer from December.
These plans, which were first announced in May, will bring England into line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where similar services are already offered.
Here MailOnline explains what the advert means for you and why you can see your pharmacist.
NHS contraception service
At least 500,000 women a year You will be able to get free birth control pills on the high street without having to see a GP under new NHS plans.
From December, women in England will be able to get a first prescription for the pill by visiting their local pharmacy.
WHAT KEY SERVICES DO COMMUNITY PHARMACIES ALREADY OFFER?
- Advice on minor illnesses.
- NHS prescription dispensing
- Emergency contraception
- Asthma inhaler use and advice
- Chlamydia detection and treatment
- Medication Advice
- Smoking cessation service
- Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar tests.
- Substance abuse service, including needle and syringe exchange programs.
- Weight control service.
- Vaccination against flu and Covid
The move will give women more options about where to get the pill.
Currently, pharmacists can dispense contraceptive pills, after they have been initially prescribed by a GP. — and offer advice on different types of contraceptives.
But now they can sign up for the new service to hand out birth control pills without patients having to see a GP.
Not all pharmacies will choose to offer this service, meaning it may not be available in all parts of England.
But the NHS has asked them to register and, for those who do, they will pay an initial fee of £2,000 on top of paying for each consultation. Sector sources expect that a large majority will nominate themselves.
As more pharmacies join the scheme, the NHS website will be updated so women can check which locations offer the service.
Women can still go to their GP if they want to start taking the pill, if they prefer.
And women who are considered too fat or whose blood pressure is high (putting them at greater risk of blood clots on the combined pill) may be referred to their GP for further checks.
Blood pressure checks
Community pharmacies have long offered blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar testing.
But the blood pressure monitoring service, which allows people over 40 to check if they are at risk of a heart attack or stroke, will be expanded from December 1 with a wider range of trained pharmacy staff capable of providing it.
Officials hope the program will enable up to 2.5 million blood pressure checks by spring 2025.
NHS England estimates this could prevent more than 1,350 heart attacks and strokes in the first year of the scheme alone.
Other key services already provided by high street pharmacies include weight management services, Covid and flu vaccinations, advice on asthma medications and inhalers, NHS prescriptions and chlamydia screening and treatment.
Under measures introduced in May, the Government revealed that a pharmaceutical scheme for common illnesses in England would be launched before the end of 2023. Under the service, patients will be able to get a prescription from their pharmacist for seven minor illnesses, including ear and urinary tract pain. infections without first seeing your GP. Plans also included expanding contraception and blood pressure monitoring services, both announced today
First National Pharmacy Service
Pharmacies will act as the first port of call, with no GP appointment or prescription required, for a range of conditions from 2024.
The First Pharmacy service You will see pharmacists giving advice and, where clinically necessary, offering prescription-only treatments for a variety of minor illnesses.
The service, scheduled to launch on January 31, 2024, will be limited to seven conditions at first, with ambitions to expand as the service matures.
These include sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women.
This could lead to pharmacists dispensing antibiotics without GP supervision for the first time.
If pharmacy teams are unable to help with a patient’s condition, they will be signposted to another part of the health service, such as general medicine or A&E.