We have closed our offices in response to the Covid-19 outbreak and are working remotely. Please send all correspondence by email.

Regulate logo

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Regulate menu

Religion, personal values and beliefs: providing emergency hormonal contraception

29 July 2019

A pharmacy professional’s religion, personal values and beliefs can play an important part in their life and make a positive contribution to their work and the care they provide. However, in some cases, these personal values and beliefs could affect their willingness to provide certain services, such as routine or emergency contraception. 

Our guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs provides further detail to help pharmacy professionals meet the standards we require. It acknowledges the right of pharmacy professionals to practise in line with their religion, personal values or beliefs, as long as this is in accordance with equalities and human rights legislation, and as long as person-centred care is not compromised.  

In particular, pharmacy professionals must:

  • not discriminate against a person, based on their own or the person’s religion, values and beliefs
  • work in partnership with their employers and colleagues to consider any additional steps or alternative arrangements that they might need to make in order not to compromise patient care 
  • apply their professional judgement on the clinical appropriateness of medication for each person, and make sure that they take into account any time limits or other barriers to accessing medicines or other services, as well as any adverse impact on the person, when making decisions 

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must meet our standards for pharmacy professionals at all times, including when their religion, personal values or beliefs might impact on their willingness to provide certain services. Standard 1 says that pharmacists must provide person-centred care and make the care of the person their first priority. 

Standard 1 also states that people receive safe and effective care when pharmacy professionals:

•    recognise and value diversity, and respect cultural differences – making sure that every person is treated fairly whatever their values and beliefs 
•    recognise their own values and beliefs but do not impose them on other people 
•    take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs.

Pharmacy professionals must be mindful of the difference between religion, personal values or beliefs and their professional clinical judgement at all times. 

Person-centred care is at the very heart of our standards, and we expect that this will be at the heart of every decision that pharmacy professionals make in their professional practice. This includes thinking in advance about the areas of their practice which may be affected and making the necessary arrangements, so they do not find themselves in the position where a person’s care could be compromised.

Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at BPAS said: “Emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) gives women a second chance of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy where regular methods have failed or not been available. We understand and respect pharmacists’ right to personal beliefs and values, and recognise that these may play an important role in the valuable work they do. We do however implore all to ensure that these beliefs do not obstruct a woman’s ability to act swiftly when faced with the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy, and make a decision about her own care in accordance with her own values.”

The guidance includes questions pharmacy professionals can ask themselves to help assess the individual situation, and the specific needs and circumstances of the person asking for care.

Find out more:

For pharmacists and RPS members:

Related articles

3 March 2020
Have you found a place to display your poster? We’ve launched a range of resources including a poster and online guide to help people understand what they can expect from pharmacy professionals and...
2 March 2020
Make sure you keep up-to-date with the latest information and advice on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and encourage your colleagues to do the same. Joint statement from the health and social care...
2 March 2020
Making sure pharmacy services can be accessed by the people who need to use them Pharmacy owners are well placed to make pharmacy services accessible by having appropriate arrangements in place and...
2 March 2020
The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has published its review of our performance against the PSA’s Standards of Good Regulation in 2018/19. The PSA found that we met 20 out of 24 of the...
11 December 2019
We have published the findings of our second major survey, which asked pharmacists and pharmacy technicians about their roles and responsibilities, work settings, employment and practice and future...