Portsmouth pharmacies are making it even easier for people to access oral contraception and advice.

Since 2021, 14 of the city’s community pharmacies have been part of a pharmacy oral contraception pilot. This means the pharmacies can provide a wide range of free oral contraception (also known as the pill), including repeat supplies, safely at a time that suits the individual. These pharmacies, based in the heart of Portsmouth communities, offer friendly, confidential advice and support without the need to visit a GP or sexual health clinic.

Portsmouth is one of two locations in the Southeast region chosen to take part in the national pilot scheme. And because of its success, nine of the 14 pharmacies are expanding the offer so they can now also provide a first supply of oral contraception for free, without the patient needing to speak with their GP practice.

The scheme has been delivered by Health and Care Portsmouth as a collaboration between Portsmouth City Council, partners across the NHS and the local pharmacy committee.

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council, said: “I am so pleased to see such a useful service making a positive difference to people. Portsmouth has a significantly higher abortion rate than the rest of England, so it makes perfect sense for free oral contraception to be more convenient for our residents. I am looking forward to seeing how this service continues to improve accessibility, increases capacity for GP practices and reduces unplanned pregnancies for Portsmouth.”

All Portsmouth residents can visit a participating pharmacy for free, confidential advice about their contraceptive options. However, it is advised that patients seeking oral contraception should call the pharmacy themselves first as an appointment might be necessary. This will help pharmacists manage their service better and should be done before patients reach the end of their current supply.

Priya Little, Pharmacist at Laly’s Pharmacy, Guildhall Walk branch commented on the success of the pilot so far: “In Portsmouth we have done 1000+ consultations since going live. We’ve had very positive feedback with people saying they are finding it much easier to access ongoing contraceptive supplies. They say they can come in when it’s convenient, sometimes on weekends. Our teams and partners alike are becoming more confident answering questions, and the patient’s consultations are never rushed, giving them the opportunity to raise any concerns.”

Following the success of the pilot in Portsmouth and in other areas of the country, all pharmacies nationally have been able to register and offer this service since April 2023. A supply can be made following a consultation where a pharmacist will complete a routine assessment for all individuals including those who have had oral contraception previously.

Portsmouth residents seeking oral contraception can refer themselves or be referred to the service via their GP or sexual health clinic. To find a local pharmacy offering this service, go to: Contraception – Health & Care Portsmouth

If oral contraception is not right for you, there are several different types of contraception that can prevent unplanned pregnancy so speak with your GP or sexual health clinician on the best option for you. Emergency contraception (also known as the morning after pill) is available at most pharmacies, GP surgeries and sexual health clinics. Visit www.letstalkaboutit.nhs.uk or call 0300 300 2016.