Reform Scotland

On the pill: coronavirus and contraception

Reform Scotland calls for flexible access to contraception during Coronavirus

Reform Scotland, the independent non-party think tank, says today that the Scottish Government should add the birth control pill to the list of products that can be prescribed in pharmacies during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Government has already extended the Minor Ailment Service (MAS) to everyone – a move welcomed by Reform Scotland. Previously the system was restricted to certain groups of people.  In its new briefing – On The Pill: Coronavirus and Contraception – the think tank suggests that adding the birth control pill to the list of products available on prescription direct from pharmacists – which include treatments for acne, diarrhoea and head lice – would reduce pressure on the NHS, a Government priority.

The Scottish Government has encouraged couples to think carefully about whether this is the right time to have a child, and also pointed out that half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

Although many pharmacies already provide the pill without a GP prescription, it must be paid for. Reform Scotland believes that making the pill easier to access for free, as part of MAS, would be an important step.

Reform Scotland hopes that the Scottish Government will give consideration to what other medicines could also be included within the Minor Ailment Scheme, helping to reduce pressure on other areas of the NHS.

Quite rightly, the Scottish Government is both trying to reduce pressure on primary care and the NHS in general during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“To that end, it has expanded the availability of the Minor Ailment Service, which we warmly welcome.

“We believe that the Government could now add the birth control pill to the list of available products, to ensure that all women can access their pill without a prescription and without a payment.

“We believe this relatively simple move can both reduce pressure on primary care, and also reduce the likelihood of an increase in unplanned pregnancy, a risk which has been highlighted by the Scottish Government.”

Notes to editors

  1. Reform Scotland is an independent, non-party think tank that aims to set out a better way to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility. Further information is available at
  2. On The Pill: Coronavirus and Contraception, can be read below.
  3. Media: Message Matters (Andy Maciver,, 07855 261 244)