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Education and training for pharmacy professionals and their support staff to manage requests for emergency contraception within community pharmacy in England
  1. Hayley Berry,
  2. Emma Anderson
  1. Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE), The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK
  1. Correspondence to Hayley Berry, Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE), The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK; hayley.berry{at}

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The article by Turnbull et al 1 reports that pharmacies are important in the choice of settings from which emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) can be obtained. This article outlines the postgraduate education that is provided to pharmacy professionals and support staff in England relating to the provision of emergency contraception (EC).

EHC can be provided by community pharmacists under patient group direction (PGD), as an over-the-counter sale or, if the pharmacist is a prescriber, on a private prescription. PGDs allow healthcare professionals to supply and administer specified medicines to predefined groups of patients, without a prescription. The majority of PGD EC schemes in England are funded by local authorities, so patients treated under PGDs do not need to self-fund treatment.2

Data on EHC provided by PGD are not collected centrally; however, the number of prescriptions dispensed in the community fell to 130 000 in 2018, a fall of 51% from 265 000 in 2008, while overall the use of EC increased in the decade up to 2012.3 4

PGDs have the advantage of allowing timely access to medicines; however, they are rigid and do not allow for the same degree of tailoring to the needs of individuals or the use of clinical judgement that is possible when a prescription is written for a specific named patient. Therefore, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance states that dispensing a prescription to a named patient after the prescriber has assessed the patient on an individual basis remains the preferred option in healthcare.5 Table 1 lists the advantages and disadvantages of PGDs, taken from the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) …

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  • Contributors Both authors contributed equally to the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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