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Publication, Part of

Sexual and Reproductive Health Services, England (Contraception) 2020/21

National statistics, Official statistics

National Statistics

Current Chapter

Part 5: Prescriptions for contraceptives dispensed in the community

Re-issue of publication

This publication was re-issued after missing data was identified at some providers.

Following collection of the missing data, the total number of contacts increased by 33,579 (+2.2%). All figures have been updated to reflect this change.

28 October 2021 12:00 PM

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

After a period of generally steady volumes, there has been a large fall in the number of LARCs dispensed in the community. In 2020, there were 1.03 million prescriptions, which is 17% lower than in 2019 when 1.24 million were dispensed.

User-dependant contraceptives by year

In 2020, there were 6.73 million prescriptions for user-dependant contraceptives dispensed in the community, a fall of 1% on 2019 (6.83 million). This continues a gradual long-term decline; there has been a fall of 8% since 2010, when 7.30 million prescriptions were provided.


For more information: Data table 13

Last edited: 28 October 2021 9:46 am