Pharmacists can now initiate oral contraception and trained members of the pharmacy team can deliver blood pressure checks, with the expansion of the Pharmacy Contraception Service and the Hypertension Case-Finding Service coming into force from today (1 December 2023).

As well as initiating oral contraception, pharmacists can continue to provide ongoing management of oral contraception that was initiated in general practice or a sexual health clinic.

Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other suitably trained and competent non-registered members of the pharmacy team can all provide the Hypertension Case-Finding Service, whereas previously, only pharmacists and pharmacy technicians could deliver the service.

Updated specifications for the extended contraception and hypertension pharmacy services were recently published by NHS England (NHSE).

Pharmacies already delivering an earlier phase of the Pharmacy Contraception Service will be required to ‘opt in’ for the next part by 29 February 2024.

NHSE has also urged pharmacy contractors to ensure their service information for both the contraception and hypertension services is up to date on their profiles, using NHS Profile Manager.

The specifications for both services state that responsible pharmacists must ensure that delegated tasks are undertaken safely by competent pharmacy staff. For the contraception service, supply under a PGD must be undertaken by a pharmacist.

Pharmacies need to have a suitable consultation room for the provision of either service. Remote consultations are permitted for the contraception service, where assessed as clinically appropriate by the pharmacist.

Contractors must ensure that there are arrangements for staff to communicate confidentially with the person receiving the service by telephone, live audio link or live video link.

Both expanded services have launched ahead of the anticipated rollout of the Pharmacy First scheme from 31 January 2024.