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Contraception - obtaining repeat prescriptions in a pandemic...

If you obtain repeat prescriptions for your chosen contraception from your GP surgery, family planning or sexual health clinic, you may be concerned about how this service has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the UK, different measures have been put in place to keep doctors, nurses and patients safe. This has resulted in most surgeries and clinics removing walk-in appointments, replacing them with online and telephone appointments, or even temporarily closing for the time being. As a result, contraception services that require face-to-face care are likely to have changed and a face to face appointment will not be readily available! So what options are open to you?

Our self-screening kiosk helps GP’s and clinics continue to provide contraception consultations, by utilising our contraceptive pathway questionnaire. Women can come into the clinic or surgery, take their blood pressure/height/weight/BMI at a time convenient to them, and complete the necessary questions. Then a nurse or GP can review their answers (which go straight into the patient record) and issue a repeat prescription - or arrange for the patient to be seen in person if required.

Questions you will be asked will include (but will not be limited to):

- Are you happy to stay on the same contraceptive pill you received last time?

- Have you missed any pills?

- Approximately, when was your last period?

- If you are taking any herbal supplements?

- Have you ever had a cervical smear?

- Do you suffer from severe headaches or migraines?

- Have you ever had a DVT or a PE (blood clot in the leg or the lung)?

- Have you or anyone in your immediate family had Breast Cancer? Are you experiencing any irregular bleeding in between your periods or after sex?

- Do you smoke?

- Do you have any concerns about the pill, including what to do if you miss a pill that you would like to discuss with one of our nurses?

If you express anything in the questionnaire that gives rise to concern such as breast cancer or thrombosis history, or bleeding problems, a clinician will arrange to telephone you to obtain more detailed information.

Or if all is OK, a doctor or nurse will send an electronic prescription to your local pharmacy so that you can collect your contraception from there.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have no contraception available, you may be tempted to use an unregulated online “pharmacy”... please don’t! Unless the pharmacy is properly regulated, this is illegal and unsafe. What’s more, you may be given contraception that is not safe for you to take, or even a different kind of medication altogether. When in doubt, only order medicine from a trusted, regulated service.

If you have any concerns, have noticed any changes that are worrying you, do not delay in contacting your GP by phone - it is the safest option while we are still in the midst of this pandemic and you will not be wasting their time - your health is their primary concern.

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