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Free EHC now available to all women from Cornwall pharmacies


Free EHC now available to all women from Cornwall pharmacies

Cornwall Council has announced it will fund free access to emergency hormonal contraception from local pharmacies.

While EHC was previously available free of charge to under-25s, a new scheme means that from October 1 this year it is available to all women “regardless of age”.

The announcement comes amid concerns over a rise in sexually transmitted infections and a decline in the use of condoms and other forms of contraception.

The council said patients “can be assured that they will be treated non-judgementally, and with dignity and respect when they speak to the pharmacist”.

It added: “Whilst EHC should never be someone’s first line of contraception, it does play a vital role in reducing unintended pregnancy when other types of contraception fail.” 

The morning after pill can be accessed free of charge from pharmacies in Scotland and Wales without the need for a prescription, while in most parts of England pharmacies charge for EHC provision. It can also be accessed free of charge from services including sexual health clinics.

Councillor Dr Andy Virr said that scrapping the age cap on free EHC was “great news,” adding: “There can often be a stigma attached to EHC but I would like to make it very clear that asking for it at your local pharmacy is nothing to be ashamed about.

“If you had unprotected sex, or other forms of contraception have failed, then drop in and talk to the pharmacist.

“Everything is completely confidential, no matter how old you are, and you will be treated with the dignity and respect you deserve.”

Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “We felt this was really important as part of our overarching women’s health strategy and drive for equality in Cornwall because, quite simply, why should women over 25 be discriminated against? 

“These are tough economic times and EHC prescriptions for over-25s can be costly so this will help support women to have a choice while not worrying about the financial impact.” 

“No matter how old you are, we would also urge everyone to practise safe sex and use condoms.

“Cases of sexually transmitted infections are on the increase in Cornwall and the UK and condoms are the only method of contraception that can protect you from them.”

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