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We read this paper with great interest, but were very disappointed that the authors seemed unaware of the availability of free oral emergency contraception from selected pharmacies in Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham since April 2000.1 This has been widely publicised, and local accident and emergency (A&E) departments were informed when it started.
In April to June 2000 there were 1003 consultations under this scheme, as it became more widely known the figure for April to June 2001 rose to 1846 consultations. We feel that in a deprived area this is more likely to have accounted for the decrease in supply at A&E, (as well as family planning and GP surgeries) than the expensive over the counter purchase route.
A snapshot audit in October 2003 showed that A&E supply is now only 3% of the total in the area.
A recent audit by the Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Clinical Governance Resource Group produced evidence of long waits at A&E departments, and a feeling by some A&E staff that this was not appropriate work for their department. The skills of community pharmacists are indeed underused, and we hope for the support of A&E departments as we mainstream this work.
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