Residents in five London boroughs are now able to receive free online routine and emergency contraception from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor thanks to a new service launched by Sexual Health London (SHL) and led by Preventx.
An existing partnership between LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, Preventx and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which currently offers remote testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, has been expanded to offer online access to routine and emergency contraception for people in the boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster.
The restrictions of shielding, self-isolating and just complying with social distancing mean that some NHS services have been more restricted during the coronavirus outbreak, including sexual and reproductive health. In fact, a recent report carried out by The Advisory Group on Contraception (AGC) found that 38% of women surveyed nationally had found it difficult to access the contraception they needed during the pandemic.
Online services allow people to access the healthcare they need without having to go to clinics, therefore allowing clinicians to focus on patients who require a face-to-face appointment.
Andy Sloman, Managing Director of LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, said: “We are eager to help and support the NHS by providing online alternatives to attending a clinic. This is an ideal service to deliver remotely and provides patients with a fast and convenient response, regardless of the pandemic. We look forward to rolling this out across more London boroughs in due course.”
The new service has been developed as a result of COVID-19 in just 6 months and was co-produced with the London Sexual Health Programme and its clinical partners. It is hoped that more London authorities will choose to make the service available to their residents over the coming months.
Currently available to people aged 16 and over, patients access the services via an online portal and are guided through a thorough consultation which is conducted in accordance with the latest national clinical guidelines. Where appropriate, a prescription is issued, and patients can choose between collection in a pharmacy or home delivery. In some cases, the patient will require further assessment by the clinician or is signposted to more suitable healthcare services.
Ruth Poole, CEO of partnership lead, Preventx said: “I’m proud that our Sexual Health London partnership is now able to offer contraception to people in London. Contraception is vital to people being able to make choices about their lives and bodies. Providing safe, medically assured contraception online makes access easier and quicker while freeing clinics to deliver methods of contraception that require a face-to-face appointment. With access to services still restricted in response to the pandemic, I am sure this will be a welcome development for Londoners”.