YOUNG people under 25 can pick up ‘the morning after pill’ at a number of pharmacies for free thanks to a new sexual health scheme.
The Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) Scheme is a new partnership between Spectrum Community Health, Barnsley Council and local pharmacies to expand access to free emergency contraception across the district and support the reduction of teenage pregnancy.
There are currently eight pharmacies signed up to the scheme: Weldricks Pharmacy in Goldthorpe, Bolton-On-Dearne, Royston and Thurnscoe; Lloyds Pharmacy in the Transport Exchange and Oaks Park Centre, Kendray; Gatehouse Pharmacy in Mapplewell and Boots Pharmacy Cheapside.
Belinda Loftus of Spectrum Sexual Health services said: “The best way to reduce the risk of pregnancy is to use contraception but sometimes a condom breaks, users forget to take the pill, or couples forget to use contraception. The EHC Scheme creates easy access points for patients who need emergency contraception and will hopefully help to reduce unplanned pregnancy.
"The morning after pill needs to be taken as soon as possible to be the most effective at preventing pregnancy. It’s fantastic to have local pharmacies supporting the sexual health clinic in delivering this service to young people.
“The most reliable way to prevent pregnancy is by using long acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods. These include the IUS/IUD (the coil) and the contraceptive implant. Anyone who wants to discuss contraception can visit a Spectrum Sexual Health clinic.”
It is advised that young people in need of EHC contact their chosen pharmacy beforehand, ensuring that the appropriate pharmacist is available to deliver a short assessment and the emergency contraception. With consent, Spectrum Sexual Health can provide any follow-up care.
Coun Jim Andrews, Barnsley Council’s cabinet spokesman for public health, said: “Barnsley Council aims to ensure that young people in the borough have easy access to contraception and sexual health services. Spectrum CIC has recently increased access to EHC; this has been a very welcome development that will help to ensure that young people in the borough can obtain it when needed.
“Pharmacists are a trusted and skilled workforce that can help ensure that evening and weekend health support for residents is increased.
“This provision is free to young people under the age of 25 and will help young people make informed choices by ensuring professional help at a time when they may be worried or upset about what to do next. I am thankful that lots of pharmacies have signed up to providing the service in Barnsley including Weldricks, Gatehouse, Boots and Lloyds.”
Pharmacies across Barnsley continue to sign up for the EHC scheme and an up-to-date list of access points can be found by visiting www.sexual-health.co.uk and selecting urgent treatment.