Young people under 25 can pick up free Emergency Hormonal Contraception – commonly known as ‘the morning after pill’ – at a growing number of pharmacies in Wakefield thanks to a new sexual health scheme.
The Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) Scheme is a new partnership between Spectrum Community Health, Wakefield Council and local pharmacies to expand access to free EHC across the district and support the reduction of teenage pregnancy. There are currently seven pharmacies signed up to the scheme: Cohens Pharmacies in Knottingley and Featherstone, Rowlands Pharmacies in Sandal, Wrenthorpe and South Elmsall, Ossett Pharmacy and Chequerfield Pharmacy – with more expressing an interest.
Belinda Loftus, Cluster Manager for Spectrum Sexual Health services and lead on implementing the scheme 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.
Councillor Pat Garbutt, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health said:
“We support this scheme because it offers young people better access and more flexibility.
“Often the need for contraception can occur over the weekend or someone may not be able to travel very far to get it. By having it available at your local pharmacy we have removed barriers or difficulties in getting emergency contraception.
“Emergencies aside we would like to remind people that the use of condoms is vital. It’s the only way to prevent STIs and that everyone should get a STI test if they have had unprotected sex with a new partner.”
Pharmacies across Wakefield continue to sign up for the EHC scheme and an up-to-date list of access points can be found by visiting the Spectrum EHC Scheme webpage.