Researchers conducted this study to describe and evaluate the training and support provided to the first cohort of community pharmacists to supply progestogen-only emergency contraception (POEC) under a Patient Group Direction (PGD) in Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham, London.

The study comprised (a) systematic analysis of written and oral data from pharmacists before and during training, and at 5 and 13-14 months after launch; (b) study of telephone calls to clinical support and (c) analysis of written pharmacy records.

A total of 20/22 pharmacists in the first training cohort; 6/23 pharmacists who applied but were not accepted were also followed up.

Queries over client management resulted in several changes in the protocol. The primary expressed concern for all pharmacists at all time points was how clients might ‘misuse’ or ‘abuse’ the service, and this remained a concern even though it also applies to other routes of supply of POEC. However, the PGD cohort was more positive on local benefits than pharmacists who were not selected.

The study concluded that training and support had enabled this often-underused group of professionals to participate in an extended reproductive health service. Mobile phones are an essential support tool.