Latest: Pharmacists approve motion calling for free access to contraception without prescription

Update 3.16pm: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has called on the Government to make contraception available from a community pharmacy without prescription and without charge, regardless of eligibility.

A motion on the topic was passed at the organisation’s AGM today and the IPU will actively advocate for Government to implement it.

Pharmacists also called on the Department of Health to improve patient care and address serious problems in health service capacity by expanding the range of healthcare services pharmacies can offer.

Earlier this month, the IPU welcomed the Minister for Health’s proposal to introduce free contraceptive care and provided his department with a detailed submission on how this could be achieved.

Speaking following the vote today, IPU President Daragh Connolly said: “We know from HSE research that almost half of women would prefer to access contraception through their pharmacy. Many pharmacists have been surprised at the strong support for this plan from their female patients and customers.”

Addressing concerns on the proposal expressed by some GPs, Mr Connolly said: “The oral contraceptive pill is one of the safest and well-studied medicines available. Pharmacists would undergo appropriate training on the selection and supply of the most appropriate contraception and therefore there is simply no clinical cause for concern.

“Providing convenient and affordable access to birth control should be a public health priority.

“Providing women with this choice will make it easier and more convenient to get contraception safely, meaning more women will use it, which should result in reduced rates of unintended pregnancy.”

Earlier Pharmacists will vote on a motion later today which would call on the Department of Health to allow women access to contraception without a prescription.

It's one of a number of proposals before the AGM of the Irish Pharmacy Union in Wexford.

IPU President Daragh Connolly explains why they are voting on it.

He said: "What we are proposing in the IPU is that we have some international best practice, these models which work very well in states like Oregon and California in America, or maybe in a country the size of Ireland, like New Zealand.

"In these places, women now, if they so choose can go directly and have a private consultation about their contraception and about their general health."

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