Letter: Condoms at the chemist's

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The Independent Online
Condoms at the chemist's

Sir: The British Medical Association says that consideration should be given to making condoms available free of charge from pharmacies (report, 20 August).

Mates Healthcare certainly supports the availability of free condoms through channels that are specifically resourced to provide the necessary advice about condom use in the context of a full contraceptive choice. Yet Community Clinics, where this expertise and service already exist, are being cut back extensively. Mates believes that the emphasis should be on saving and developing these primary care services, indeed extending them to include general practice.

The commercial environment of the retail pharmacy is, in our view, for practical reasons not appropriate for sexual health (including family planning) consultations. To embark on such a course would require massive and unnecessary investment in terms of consulting rooms and training. These already exist elsewhere in the health service and are themselves starved of cash.

The reduction of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections is supported by all. The BMA's concerns highlight the need for a new, strategic approach to family planning provision, coupled with the need for comprehensive sex education in our schools . These are the fundamentals that the Government needs to grasp.

CHRIS BELL

Director

Mates Healthcare Ltd

Surbiton, Surrey

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