Pharmacy Contraception Service: Updated service spec and PGDs published

NHS England has today published the updated specification and Patient Group Directions (PGDs) for the Pharmacy Contraception Service on their website. This follows the announcement made last week around the service being expanded from 1st December 2023.

It comes alongside the publication of the updated specification for the Hypertension Case-Finding Service.

The expanded service will enable pharmacists to initiate oral contraception, as well as continuing to provide ongoing management of oral contraception that was initiated in general practice or a sexual health clinic (or equivalent).

In our work with NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, other minor changes to the service specification and PGDs have been agreed.

Pharmacy owners will need to provide both elements of the service.

Pharmacies currently providing the service (Tier 1)

Those who are currently providing the service (Tier 1 – ongoing management of oral contraception) will have a period of time to transition to provide both elements of the service and will then need to declare that they agree to the terms and scope of the expanded service via the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) Manage Your Service (MYS) portal.

The deadline for this opt-in is 29th February 2024. Any pharmacies providing the Tier 1 service who do not opt-in by that date will be automatically deregistered from the service (and they will be informed of this by the NHSBSA).

In the meantime, pharmacy owners who are currently providing the Tier 1 service can still access the current service specification on the NHSBSA website; this should be used until they transition over to the expanded service.

Pharmacies new to the service

Pharmacy owners who have not signed up to provide the service by 1st December 2023, will need to provide the full, expanded service (i.e. initiation and repeat supplies) from the time they decide to register for the service.

The service page on our website has been updated to reflect the changes and updated resources have also been published for use by pharmacy owners and their teams.

We are working with NHS England and the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) to organise webinars for pharmacy owners on making the changes to start initiation of contraception or starting to offer this service and details of these will be announced soon.

Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at Community Pharmacy England, said:

“This is a great development for the Pharmacy Contraception Service and will give women across the country more choice as to where they access free NHS contraception. It is also good news that additional funding is available for this service, and the Hypertension Case-Finding Service, from outside of the global sum: this will allow more consultations per year to be carried out without putting pressure on the core contractual sum. This extra funding for the two services was a must-have for Community Pharmacy England in the recent negotiations.

“We encourage all pharmacy owners to embrace the service, as this will make a real difference to women across England and will also clearly demonstrate the benefit of the NHS commissioning clinical services from community pharmacy.

“However, 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.

“We know that there is a huge amount of information to absorb and to prepare for. To help with this, we are working with NHS England and CPPE to provide further support for pharmacy owners – more details will be announced soon, but in the meantime, we are pleased that the updated details of these two services have been published so soon after the announcement of the changes last week. “


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