Girls aged 13 'should be given the contraceptive Pill from pharmacies without a prescription' claims NHS report
12:18 GMT, 25 April 2012
Doctors said there were risks in prescribing contraceptives for the first time to young women without taking a full history
Girls as young as 13 should be able to get the Pill from their local pharmacy without seeing a family doctors, researchers have recommended.
It follows an evaluation of a pilot scheme in Southwark and Lambeth in London which offered contraception to over-16s in chemists.
The study by NHS South East London found 46 per cent of the young women who used the scheme had never taken the Pill before.
They recommended rolling out the scheme nationwide and said commissioners should consider widening it to girls aged 13 to 16, according to Pulse.
But Dr Fiona Cornish, a GP in Cambridge
and president-elect of the Medical Women’s Federation, said she was
‘uneasy’ about pharmacy distribution without GP assessment.
‘GPs check for safety and do the education side,' she said.
Doctors added that there were risks in prescribing it for the first time to young women without taking a full history.
The Department of Health said it
supported pharmacy access for under-16s, with proper safeguards.
A statement read:
‘[Pharmacists] should be fully satisfied young people understand all the
issues before they prescribe any contraceptive, including encouraging
the young person to talk to their parents.’
Two pilot schemes – in NHS Manchester and NHS Isle of Wight –
have already begun providing services to under-16s – without their parents knowledge.
NHS Manchester offers contraception to under-16s through 13
A spokesperson said: ‘Any client under
16 must meet the requirements of the Fraser guidelines.’
The Fraser guidelines mean children can receive contraception without parental consent as long as the professional thinks they are likely to have sex anyway and has tried to persuade them to tell their parents.
The Isle of Wight scheme in 10 community
pharmacies also provides the Pill to any girl over 13, although
under-16s are also referred to a safeguarding nurse.
Kevin Noble, community pharmacy lead for
NHS Isle of Wight, said it was discussing extending the scheme to all
the island’s pharmacies: 'It’s a shame other schemes have shied away
from providing the Pill to under-16s.'
Women aged 16 or over have been able to obtain oral contraception without a GP prescription under pilots in Southwark and Lambeth since 2008. NHS City and
Hackney, NHS Kingston and NHS Croydon have similar schemes.
An NHS South East London evaluation found a quarter of women receiving the Pill under the scheme were under 19, and there was a significant drop at one pharmacy in use of emergency contraception after its launch.
The report recommended: ‘Consider expanding this service to appropriate pharmacies in Lambeth and Southwark, across London and nationally, to shift activity out of GP practices.
'Consider providing the service to women under 16 years where appropriate – this may help contribute to a reduction in teenage pregnancies.'
Richard Hoey, editor of Pulse, said: ‘Improving access to the Pill is a key component of strategies to reduce teenage pregnancies, but there are obvious sensitivities to widening pharmacy schemes to girls as young as 13.
'Where schemes like this are set up, it’s important local GPs are involved, so they can be satisfied pharmacies are devoting the time needed to take a history and provide advice, and girls have a clear line to practices if they need further support.’
The contraceptive implant Nexplanon is 4cm long and is
inserted under the skin. A parent was outraged after it was implanted in her
Earlier this year, NHS Solent revealed it
was offering contraceptive implants to girls as young as 13 at schools
in Southampton without their parents’ knowledge.
Under the scheme nurses devices into their arms which
temporarily prevent pregnancy by releasing hormones into the blood.
Last year 1,700 girls aged 13 and 14 were
fitted with implants, while 800 had injections which have the same
The 2010/11 NHS figures also show that 3,200
15-year-old girls were fitted with implants, and 1,700 had
But under strict ‘patient confidentiality’ rules, staff are banned from seeking the permission of parents beforehand – or
even informing them afterwards.