Service specifications and patient group directions (PGDs) for the extended Community Pharmacy Contraceptive Service and Hypertension Case Finding Service have been published on the NHS England (NHSE) website.

Under new rules, from 1 December community pharmacies will be able to initiate oral contraception, and all suitably trained members of the pharmacy team will be able to deliver blood pressure checks.

NHSE is encouraging community pharmacies not yet signed up to deliver these services to register from 1 December 2023 via the Manage Your Service platform.

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

When the Pharmacy Contraception Service was piloted earlier this year, more than 4,500 women who had already accessed the pill were able to receive an ongoing supply of oral contraception at their local pharmacy, according to NHSE.

And when tier 1 of the Pharmacy Contraception Service was launched in April, more than 15% of community pharmacies in England signed up to provide it within the first few weeks, as revealed by The Pharmacist.

Tier 2 of the service was originally set to begin in October this year, but both the first and second stages of the service roll-out were delayed.

This week, 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 new services have launched ahead of the anticipated rollout of the Pharmacy First conditions service from 31 January 2024.

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at Community Pharmacy England, said the Community Pharmacy Contraception Service would ‘give women across the country more choice’ and encouraged all pharmacy owners to embrace it.

However, he added: ‘Pharmacy owners will also need to consider the launch of the Pharmacy First service at the end of January 2024, when they are planning their preparations to get ready to provide the Pharmacy Contraception Service or to enhance their existing service provision.

‘Many will likely choose to prioritise preparations for the Pharmacy First service.’