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Creating a new NHS England: NHS England and NHS Digital merged on 1 February 2023. More about the merger.

Publication, Part of

Sexual and Reproductive Health Services, England (Contraception) 2019/20

National statistics, Official statistics

National Statistics

Current Chapter

Part 5: Prescriptions for contraceptives dispensed in the community

Part 5: Prescriptions for contraceptives dispensed in the community


Data for items dispensed in the community are sourced from the prescribing team at NHS Digital. The system used is the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system, supplied by the Prescription Services Division of the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) and is based on the full analysis of all prescriptions dispensed in the community.

Prescriptions written by GPs and non-medical prescribers (nurses, pharmacists etc.) in England represent the vast majority of prescriptions included. Prescriptions written by dentists and hospital doctors are also included provided they were dispensed in the community. Also included are prescriptions written in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man but dispensed in England. The data do not cover items dispensed in hospital or on private prescriptions.

The majority of items provided by SRH services would not be captured in this prescribing data, though there is likely to be a small amount of overlap where the prescription item is unavailable directly from the service.

Prescribing data is collected on a different basis to SRHAD and so the datasets cannot generally be combined.  It represents a count of items prescribed, unlike the activity based nature of SRHAD.

Prescriptions for contraceptives dispensed at other locations in the community

Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) by year

There were 1.24 million prescriptions dispensed in the community for LARCs in 2019. This is similar to recent years, but 5% higher than in 2009 (1.18 million).

User-dependant contraceptives by year

In 2019, there were 6.83 million prescriptions dispensed in the community for user-dependant contraceptives, a fall of 2% on 2018 (6.94 million). This continues a gradual long term decline; there has been a fall of 8% since 2009, when 7.42 million prescriptions were provided.


For more information: Table 13, Sexual and Reproductive Health Services (Contraception), England, 2019/20

Last edited: 9 December 2020 1:22 pm