BBC3 online recently reported the cases of two women who were unable to access emergency contraception from their local pharmacy. Responding to the piece, RPS President Professor Claire Anderson said:
“It’s completely unacceptable that two women needing emergency contraception had negative experiences at the community pharmacies they approached to provide it.
“It's vital women needing emergency contraception are not put off approaching their local pharmacy. Pharmacists provide emergency contraception across the UK on a daily basis and the overwhelming majority of women will receive a swift and non-judgmental service, as is their right.
“Pharmacists who have a conscientious objection which impacts on the services they can provide to patients should inform their employer prior to accepting the position and establish which local pharmacies will supply emergency contraception in the event that a request is made. They should then ensure that patients are referred to other providers for that service. Protecting the rights of individuals to adhere to their moral or religious beliefs is important, but satisfying the needs of patients must be the priority of both employers and employees.
“A pharmacist should never knowingly put themselves in a situation where they will not be able to meet the needs of patients and should deal with all requests in a compassionate and professional manner.”
Read the RPS guide for pharmacists to emergency contraception