Pharmacies will be allowed to hand out three month supplies of a contraceptive pill without the need for patients to go to their GP, the Scottish Government has announced.
Following a successful trial in the Lothian and Tayside areas, a three-month supply of the progestogen-only pill – known as the mini pill – will be available from community pharmacies.
While patients are advised to contact their GP or local sexual health services to discuss their family planning needs, ministers hope the scheme will bridge the gap between emergency contraception and long-term contraception.
Women’s health minister Maree Todd said: “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.”
She added: “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.”
She stressed: “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.”