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Pill given out without prescription

The Government has announced that community pharmacists will be allowed to hand out the contraceptive pill without prescription under a new pilot scheme.

Health minister Lord Darzi told the House of Lords: “We recognise that pharmacies could play an increased role in the provision of contraception and other sexual health services because of their accessibility and convenient opening hours.

“We will work with primary care trusts over the next year to pilot supply of contraception, including the contraceptive pill, through NHS arrangements.

“We will work with the pharmacy profession to ensure robust standards, setting appropriate training to ensure that pharmacists are competent to provide this service.”

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But Conservative Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked: “Sexual activity occurs well before the age of consent, so will community pharmacists be required to ask the age of the person applying and if so how will they be able to establish that they are of an age that they are entitled to services?”

Lord Darzi replied: “That will end up being a professional judgment of the pharmacist. At the moment there is no age limits from a pharmacy perspective. But we envisage it will be compatible with the morning after pill, which is currently at the age of 16.

“It will be the professional judgment of the pharmacist and probably the use of identification of some sort.”

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Department of Health

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