Nov 13 2010
Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail
ALL high street pharmacies in Wales will be allowed to provide the morning-after pill for free on the NHS from April.
Health Minister Edwina Hart said the sexual health enhanced service would ensure women have better access to emergency hormonal contraception.
Until now, a select number of pharmacies have been able to sell the morning-after pill for £25. But in some parts of Wales, pharmacists have been able to hold consultations with women and provide the emergency contraception for free on the NHS.
Mrs Hart said: “Pharmacists have a key role to play in the reduction of unwanted pregnancies, especially when coupled with advice for future contraceptive actions.
“This enhanced service from community pharmacies will provide a consistency of access for patients to discreet counselling, information and referral services on a range of sexual health matters together with assessment for emergency hormonal contraception where deemed appropriate by the pharmacist.
“This service will provide further opportunities to use the skills and high street accessibility of community pharmacies to improve the health and wellbeing of patients.
“Advice and support for women from a trained and accredited healthcare professional is vital and I want this to be available without appointment and easily accessible within the 72-hour time span necessary for emergency contraception to be most effective.”
She added the start of the enhanced service from April would complement the Assembly Government’s new sexual health plan, which was published on Monday.
Ian Cowan, chairman of Community Pharmacy Wales, said: “As community pharmacists, we know, where it exists, this service makes a massive difference to women’s lives.”