Local commissioners should provide funding for more community pharmacies to offer sexual health services including chlamydia and HIV testing, Public Health England (PHE) has advised.
Local authorities ‘have an opportunity to consider’ commissioning pharmacies – especially those that target populations most at risk of poor sexual health, for example young people – to provide sexual health services alongside other providers, PHE said in a new report published today (25 March).
Healthy Living Pharmacies (HLPs) were cited as particularly good examples of how community pharmacy can promote sexual health.
Pharmacy provision of such services is ‘variable’ across England, PHE said, with 47% of pharmacies commissioned to provide emergency hormonal contraception (EHC), 28% commissioned to provide chlamydia screening/treatment and just 9% commissioned to provide free condoms as of 2014/15.
Without input from pharmacies, patients seeking sexual health services will continue to experience ‘fragmented’ care, which could result in poor sexual and reproductive health and unplanned pregnancies, the report said.
To ensure that more pharmacy sexual health services are commissioned, it is important that the sector is ‘appropriately’ represented on key boards and discussions, the report recommended.
Find out how to make your sexual health service stand out here.