bpas launches scheme to allow women access to free emergency hormonal contraception in advance over the phone

To help women prevent unwanted pregnancy over the festive season, sexual health charity bpas is launching a novel scheme enabling women across the UK to request free emergency hormonal contraception in advance over the phone – delivered to their home.

Contraception fails, and sometimes we fail to use it properly. The sooner the morning after pill is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it is. But we know women can face barriers obtaining it, including problems with appointments, the high costs when it is bought directly from a pharmacist (up to £25), and even the refusal of some healthcare professionals to provide it. At Christmas, with many clinics and chemists closed, problems of access can be even greater. bpas believes it makes sense for women to keep a pill at home, in advance of need, to avoid these obstacles and delays.

Women simply have to leave their details and a time they can be called in privacy on our webform at www.santacomes.org. A nurse will phone to assess their suitability and to ensure it is not being requested for immediate use. The consultation, which will last about 15 minutes, will include an explanation about how the pill works, when to take it, and what to expect. The nurse will also be able to answer any questions about more regular forms of contraception and sexual health, as well as provide details of local contraception and sexual health services. The pill will then be despatched with condoms and advice literature to her home address. 

Tracey Forsyth, bpas lead contraception nurse, said: “The morning after pill can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, but the sooner it is taken the better – and having it at home means you are much more likely to take it as soon as you need it. 

“Sometimes women worry that requesting the pill in advance makes it look like you are planning on taking chances. In fact the opposite is true – making sure you have a back-up to help prevent an unwanted pregnancy is making sure nothing is left to chance. It’s a particularly good idea if you are relying on condoms. When you contact us we’ll also be able to answer any questions you have about sexual health and contraception, but haven't perhaps found the time or place to ask." 

Ann Furedi, bpas chief executive, said: "We are as committed to helping women avoid the need for abortion as we are to providing first class abortion care.

We know women often do not take the morning after pill after unprotected sex. They may not think their risk of pregnancy is high, and the cost, inconvenience or embarrassment of obtaining it may put them off. We hope being able to access it in advance over the phone for free will encourage more women to have one at home, just in case."

For more information please contact the bpas press office on 0207 612 0206 or 07788 725185. A pdf of the poster with details of the scheme being displayed in venues across the country is also available.

Notes for editors:

The “morning after pill” is Levonelle® One Step

One tablet should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure, preferably within 12 hours and no later than 72 hours

It will be dispensed by bpas nurses via a PGD (Patient Group Directive) prescription

Posters with information about the scheme and a QR code will be displayed in venues in the following cities: Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Coventry, Cardiff, Doncaster, Leicester, London, Leeds, and Liverpool

Emails with details of the scheme will be sent to 350,000 women across the UK

The service is free and will be available while stocks last throughout December

Women who are under-16 will be referred to their local bpas unit or to another local provider for a consultation before the pill is dispensed

About bpas:

bpas supports reproductive choice and health by advocating and providing high quality, affordable services to prevent unwanted pregnancies with contraception or end them by abortion. We also offer a range of other reproductive health services.

bpas is Britain's largest single abortion provider, caring for around 55,000 women each year. It provides pregnancy testing, counselling, STI screening, contraception, sterilisation, vasectomy and vasectomy reversal through 36 consultation centres and 19 clinics located throughout the UK.