Lambeth Council's (Public Health Commissioning Team) contracts with community pharmacies to provide public health and health improvement services for Lambeth residents.
Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham have amongst the highest sexual health needs in the country, with high rates of STIs, HIV, and repeat abortion.
Access to contraception and information about the different types of contraception available is important in helping women remain in control of their fertility.
High quality pharmacy services are a core part of improving access to contraception in our communities, due to their long opening hours, and no appointments or waiting times.
Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Public Health Departments want to create a new sexual health pharmacy service.
Our vision is to develop a number of specialist ‘sexual health pharmacies’, which will provide a wider choice of contraception services and make it easier to get the right method of contraception when you need it.
All these pharmacies will provide the same sexual health and contraception services, so people will know the type of service they can expect when they walk into a sexual health pharmacy.
Currently, there are a large number of pharmacies in each borough that provide some type of sexual health or contraception service.
We know that the current configuration of services does not meet the needs of all our residents, for example, the use (and repeat use) of emergency contraception (the morning after pill) is extremely high, and we know this is linked to difficulties in accessing regular contraception like the pill. There are also clusters of pharmacies in some areas and gaps in others.
We want to create a pharmacy service that helps people access contraception in a planned way, and when they need it most.
Proposed Service Change
We are proposing a new model for sexual health pharmacies in Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham.
All pharmacies that are selected to become ‘sexual health pharmacies’ will all provide the same service.
You will be able to access all types of emergency contraception (including the morning after pill and emergency coil), a comprehensive assessment of your contraceptive needs, and provision of suitable contraception (including receiving either the contraceptive pill, an appointment for other types of contraception at a nearby sexual health clinic, or if you are under 25, free condoms.
All women going to pharmacies for the morning after pill will also receive a full contraceptive assessment, so they can leave the pharmacy with the contraception of their choice.
It is likely that there will be a smaller number of pharmacies providing sexual health and contraception services in each of our boroughs, as not all pharmacies currently providing some of these services will want to become a ‘sexual health pharmacy’.
However, our ambition is to have a number of sexual health pharmacies in each of our neighbourhoods/localities, to ensure everyone in our boroughs can access these services easily.
Unfortunately, the grant we receive from the Government to provide these services has decreased in recent years. We, therefore, want to prioritise our local residents, so we are proposing that only people that live or study in our boroughs will be able to use the sexual health pharmacy services in Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham.
People that don’t meet this criteria will be advised to visit their GP or a sexual health clinic.
We have been working with local residents, pharmacists and sexual health doctors to develop our plans, and we feel strongly that this new sexual health pharmacy service will provide a better service for local women and men.
It will also improve reproductive health model of sexual health services in pharmacy that is standardised and which improves the quality of service for our residents.