Pharmacy teams in Birmingham are helping to improve access to sexual health services for young people through an innovative NHS partnership scheme.
In collaboration with Umbrella – the sexual health service run by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust – pharmacies are encouraging more 15-24 year olds to seek advice and treatment for sexual health problems, and helping to shift the initial point of contact for sexual health services from secondary to primary care.
Since Umbrella launched in August 2015, participating pharmacies have provided a total of 9,373 sexual health service consultations, including EHC, condom distribution, STI testing kit provision, chlamydia testing and oral and injectable contraceptives.
The number of emergency hormonal contraceptives dispensed by partner pharmacists grew from 365 in August 2015 to 810 in April 2016, while condom distribution increased from just 29 packs in August to 167 in April, peaking in February when 239 packs were handed out.
In addition, the number of STI testing kits dispensed has risen from just three in August with a peak of 76 in October and 23 dispensed last month.
Jeff Blankley, chairman of the Birmingham Local Pharmaceutical Committee, which is an Umbrella partner, said: “Pharmacies can offer a wider range of sexual health services than ever before and they feature in most local communities, so we should be encouraging people to use them.
“The fact that pharmacies can offer free, local advice and treatment without the need for an appointment and within more flexible hours will hopefully appeal to younger people who may not choose to make an appointment at a clinic.
“The more people we can encourage to come to us, the more we can collectively contribute to improving sexual health and reducing inequalities in provision of care.”