Woman refused morning after pill after pharmacist says it’s against her ‘personal beliefs’

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  • A woman was refused the morning after pill after a pharmacist said it went against her ‘personal beliefs' on Sunday.

    Siani, 41-years-old, visited her local LloydsPharmacy at Sainsbury’s’ on Lewes Road in Brighton to pick up her pre-ordered emergency contraception.

    Siani had ordered and paid for her morning after pill online and had visited the store to pick up her order.

    However, a female member of staff refused to give her the morning after pill claiming she could not dispense the product for ‘personal reasons’ as it was a Sunday.

    Siani told Metro: ‘I rang up from my car before going in to check that it was ready and the woman who answered told me that she will not dispense this type of product for “personal reasons”.

    ‘Honestly, it was the world’s largest eye roll. I can handle this, I’m not embarrassed. I’m old and stroppy enough to make a fuss, but what if I was a teenager?’

    The alternative the pharmacist suggested was to come back the following day, or go to another branch 10 miles away.

    Saini said: ‘I don’t really think that is offering any real alternative.

    ‘I don’t think it’s remotely acceptable that LloydsPharmacy created a situation where they discriminate against women by having the only branch in the city that is open on a Sunday staffed by a lone pharmacist who will not dispense women’s services.

    ‘And I don’t think it’s acceptable that they will sell a service that their staff refuse to deliver after accepting payment.’

    She continued: ‘I’m a mum in my 40s, I have very little shame left, but there will be girls having the same experience who have nothing like the resources I do.’

    In response, LloydsPharmacy have apologised for the ‘distress and frustration caused by the experience’.

    Though, they continue to adhere to GPhC guidelines, which ‘allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication that goes against their personal beliefs if there is adequate alternative care available for the patient.’

    Alex Reimmer, Professional Standards Manager for LloydsPharmacy said: ‘As part of our own guidance, we encourage our pharmacists to use their professional judgement, but they must always put the patient first.’

    The incident has caused outrage on social media.

    One person said: ‘This is ridiculous. Shouldn’t be legal in this day and age.’

    Another added: ‘Completely unacceptable, your personal beliefs are just that, “personal”.’

    Though, it is legal for pharmacists to reuse dispensing prescriptions under the General Pharmaceutical Council’s guidelines which states that pharmacy professionals’ religion, personal values or beliefs may influence their ‘day-to-day practice, particularly whether they feel able to provide certain services’.

    This includes emergency contraception, routine contraception, fertility medicines, and hormonal therapies.