An investigation has been launched into how a Brighton woman was being refused emergency contraception after she’d paid for it because of the pharmacist’s “personal reasons”.
Siani, a mother of one from Hollingdean, was prescribed the morning after pill after an online consultation with a doctor from Lloyds Pharmacy on Sunday following a condom failure.
She paid £30 for the prescription, and drove to Sainsbury’s in Lewes Road where the only branch of Lloyds in the city was open.
But when she called up to the pharmacy from the car park to check it was ready, the pharmacist told her she wouldn’t dispense it because of undisclosed personal reasons.
Lloyds Pharmacy has now apologised and says it is investigating how this happened, adding that the pharmacist involved was a locum and not a permanent employee.
Siani, 41, said: “I’m just absolutely furious that a big successful company like Lloyds think it’s acceptable to offer a service that blatantly discrimates against women by having their only store that is open on a Sunday staffed by a lone pharmacist who refuses to provide essential women’s health services like emergency contraception.
“I’ve paid more than £30 for this, in advance, with no warning, and been told when I rang to collect that I could either go to Newhaven or collect the next day because of the pharmacist refusing to dispense.
“This is a time sensitive medication, and that’s just not offering any appropriate alternative at all. I don’t think it’s remotely acceptable for a company to do that.
“I’m stroppy and well off enough to take the financial hit of waiting for a refund (possibly two to three days) and going elsewhere and complaining, but what if I was some teenaged girl with a limited income?
“How is it acceptable that Lloyds create a situation where someone who will not dispense is working alone in the only branch open?”
A spokesman for Lloyds Pharmacy said: “The health and wellbeing of our patients is always our priority.
“We encourage our pharmacists to use their professional judgement but expect them to follow the guidelines from the regulator with responsibility for the profession (GPhC).
“In this case, there is more the pharmacist could have done for the patient and we are following that up.
“We are very sorry for the distress and frustration this has caused the patient and we have tried to contact her to apologise and make sure that she received the support she needed.“