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A woman was told she couldn't get emergency contraception because it went against the beliefs of the only pharmacist working that day.
Mum Siani visited LloydsPharmacy at Sainsbury's on Lewes Road, Brighton, to get the morning after pill when the pharmacist on duty refused to give it to her due to "personal reasons".
Siani, 41, had preordered the contraception online, paid in advance, and had headed to the store to pick it up on Sunday.
"I rang up from my car before going in to check that it was ready and the woman who answered told me that she will not dispense this type of product for 'personal reasons'," she told Metro.co.uk.
She added: "Honestly, it was the world's largest eye roll. I can handle this, I'm not embarrassed. I'm old and stroppy enough to make a fuss, but what if I was a teenager?"
Siani was then offered the alternative of returning the next day, or travelling the 10 miles to her next nearest branch in Newhaven.
"I don't really think that is offering any real alternative," she told the paper. "I don't think it's remotely acceptable that LloydsPharmacy created a situation where they discriminate against women by having the only branch in the city that is open on a Sunday staffed by a lone pharmacist who will not dispense women's services."
Siani added: "And I don't think it's acceptable that they will sell a service that their staff refuse to deliver after accepting payment."
The staff member's refusal was technically allowed as part of the GPhC guidelines, that LloydsPharamacy adhere to, which "allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication that goes against their personal beliefs" as long as "there is adequate alternative care available for the patient".
In a statement to Pretty52, LloydsPharamacy apologised for the incident, adding: "As part of our own guidance, we encourage our pharmacists to use their professional judgement, but they must always put the patient first. In this case, the pharmacist was a locum pharmacist, not a full time employee. However, we will be communicating to our colleagues to remind them of this guidance.
"If a pharmacist refuses to dispense a particular product, they should contact the local NHS Patient Advisory Team so that an alternate pharmacy can be found as a matter of urgency. On this occasion we contacted the customer with details of another local pharmacy where the product would be made available."
Siani added: "I'm a mum in my 40s, I have very little shame left, but there will be girls having the same experience who have nothing like the resources I do. You expect that sort of nonsense in America, but not here.
"I just can't believe that we don't have a system in place to protect women's access, or that big companies think it's fine to let women be discriminated against just so they can have one person on staff instead of two."
Siani added: "A friend told me about spending all day going from one pharmacy to another and being told no when she was a teenager. It's absolutely horrifying to me.
"We live in a civilised country with one of the best and most efficient health care systems in the world, but women can be discriminated against for basic health care needs because a big company like LloydsPharmacy won't make reasonable accommodation to ensure that where staff are unwilling to dispense medicine, women's access to that medicine is protected."
LloydsPharmacy said it will be investigating the incident further.
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