Almost half a million women will be able to acquire the contraceptive pill without needing to go their GP next year.
According to NHS England, a first prescription of the pill can be obtained through a visit to a local pharmacy – without GP approval.
The move comes in an effort to free up family doctors amid ongoing record waiting times across England. It will bring England into line with the rest of the UK where similar pharmacy services are already offered.
Although no health checks are required for the mini-pill, women in England will need a standard blood pressure and weight check up from their pharmacist if they wish to go on the combined oestrogen and progestogen pill.
The new health secretary, Victoria Atkins said that scheme “will free up GP appointments and make better use of the skills and expertise within community pharmacies.
“For the public, these changes will mean more options for women when making a choice about their preferred contraception, reduce the risks of people suffering heart attacks and strokes and make it easier to access medicines for common conditions.”
The move is part of a wider plan allow patients to be treated for a range of conditions at local pharmacies in England.
From February, pharmacies who have signed up to the new scheme will also be able to offer advice and treatment, including antibiotics, for seven common conditions:
- sore throat
- infected insect bites
- urinary tract infection in women