NHS England has confirmed that the pharmacy contraception service won’t include IUDs and IUSs, contrary to reports in the Mail Online that patients would be able to get fitted with the coil at their local pharmacy.

Tiers 3 and 4 of the proposed Pharmacy Contraception Service will include Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) including implants, vaginal rings, injections and patches, but specifically excludes intrauterine systems (IUS) and intrauterine devices (IUD).

The first stage of the service was due to begin in January 2023, which would have allowed pharmacists to manage the ongoing monitoring and supply of repeat oral contraception prescriptions.

Then, from October 2023, pharmacists were to be allowed to initiate oral contraception via a Patient Group Direction (PGD). Pilots for this service are currently in progress.

The proposals for tier 3 of the service would allow pharmacists to manage LARCs – excluding IUDs and IUCs – on a repeat basis, and initiate them under tier 4, subject to positive pilots.

However, the start of the service has been delayed and a new start date has not yet been set. Yesterday, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) told the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that the contraception service could not go ahead without additional funding for community pharmacy.

Janet Morrison, PSNC CEO, said that ‘pharmacies very much want to be able to offer’ the contraception service, which she said ‘would be a fantastic step forward giving people safe and easy access to medicines that they need’.

However, she added that ‘regrettably we have had to tell the NHS that there is currently no capacity to deliver this service without additional funding’, following eight years of government funding cuts ‘to the tune of some 30%’ that have left pharmacies ‘fighting for survival’.

She urged members of the public to sign the sector’s ‘Save our pharmacies’ petition calling for an immediate increase in funding for the community pharmacy sector.