Women who require the morning-after pill will no longer have to obtain a prescription for it, following a decision by the Boots pharmacy chain to introduce a new emergency contraception service.
The service will be available in all Boots pharmacies nationwide from Wednesday, January 12. It comprises a one-to-one consultation with a pharmacist, provision of the medicine and advice on long-term contraception and sexual health. The cost of the service will be €45.
According to the pharmacy chain, this new service is offered under a patient group direction (PGD) which allows Boots pharmacists to provide a range of clinical services, including medical treatments. All services are conducted under strict guidelines laid down its medical director, claims Boots Ireland.
The emergency contraception service is the second PGD service to be rolled out by Boots Ireland, following the recent introduction of a flu vaccination service.
The chain pointed out that emergency hormonal contraception is available over the counter (OTC) in pharmacists throughout Europe. The provision of emergency contraception has been licensed for use in Ireland since 2001, however until now, those who sought the service required a doctor's prescription.
"This emergency contraception service has been introduced as part of Boots' objective to provide responsible, accessible and affordable healthcare to its customers," said Boots Ireland chief pharmacist, Mary Rose Burke.
The pharmacy chain said that all pharmacists have completed in-depth training on all aspects of emergency contraception, long-term contraception and other sexual health issues. This incorporates a rigorous sign-off procedure that includes an assessment of their consultation skills.
However GPs have expressed concern about the move. According to the Irish College of General Practitioners, it raises issues about the quality and continuity of care given to patients.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.