PHE highlights community pharmacy’s offer for sexual health

PHE highlights community pharmacy’s offer for sexual health

March 25, 2019

Public Health England (PHE) has launched a resource, aimed at commissioners and other health professionals,  to highlight community pharmacy’s offer for delivering sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services across England. The resource highlights various issues relating to sexual and reproductive health (such as chlamydia screening and treatment, unplanned pregnancies and HIV testing) and opportunities for commissioners.

The report calls for commissioners to recognise the value of community pharmacy teams as a key asset for the provision of the above services, especially given their convenient position and value within the community.

It argues that without community pharmacy integration, people will continue to experience fragmented sexual and reproductive health service delivery, resulting in poor health outcomes, unplanned pregnancies and subsequent personal and societal costs.

Key facts highlighted by PHE from commissioned community pharmacy services include:

  • in 2017, over 13,000 chlamydia tests and 1,200 diagnoses were made in pharmacies in England amongst 15-24-year-olds;
  • based on a survey disseminated to sexual health commissioners of 152 upper tier local authorities in England – of which, 68% responded – community pharmacies were the most common C-Card (a type of condom distribution scheme) outlet, making up 30% of the total reported C-Card venue types;
  • a pilot involving the supply of the oral contraceptive pill via Patient Group Direction revealed the clinical competency of pharmacists in this role and substantial patient satisfaction with the service;
  • an HIV prevention pilot’s early evaluation demonstrated pharmacies as a viable setting for increasing HIV testing, with almost 50% of people tested having never been tested before; and
  • the anonymity that pharmacies offer was a key strength, particularly for vulnerable groups such as gay and bisexual men, ethnic minority groups and for those living in rural areas.

Healthy Living Pharmacies (HLPs)

HLPs were highlighted as an exemplary platform to further promote sexual health campaigns to raise awareness, address risky behaviours, and offer onward referral and signposting to populations at risk, especially for those who do not access conventional health services.

More information on hosting a health awareness event/campaign relating to sexual health can be found on the PSNC health promotion ideas page.

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