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The Guardian newspaper reports that LlodysPharmacy has been forced to apologise after a customer was refused emergency contraception by a ‘relief’ pharmacist.

The incident happened last week (Sept 30) at a south London branch of the multiple.

The patient was quoted as saying that she felt “upset and humiliated” when the pharmacist told her she was unable to distribute the contraception “for religious reasons.”

A spokesperson for LloydsPharmacy confirmed the incident to Pharmacy Business: “We are extremely saddened to confirm that a patient was refused contraception on the basis of one of our relief pharmacist’s religious beliefs.”

Apologising for “any distress this has caused the patient”, the company said it “would like to offer our full support with providing any further help needed by this individual.”

“We support women’s choice and provide numerous contraceptive and sexual health services every day from our community pharmacies,” the spokesperson said. “We wholly respect pharmacists’ beliefs but expect them to follow the guidelines from the regulator [GPhC] with responsibility for the profession.”

According to General Pharmaceutical Council guidance, pharmacists should “recognise their own values and beliefs but… not impose them on other people”. They are also obliged to “take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of their personal values and beliefs”.

Last year, a customer was denied pre-ordered emergency contraception at another branch of the multiple in Brighton. The pharmacist there told the patient that the product was ready but would not be distributed for “personal reasons”.

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