Approximately one-third of the population hold a medical card, and these individuals can access contraception from their GP free of charge except for a small per item prescription charge levied at the pharmacy. The Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) have reported that 124,379 clients availed of contraceptive drugs and special services through the GMS scheme in 2018. The cost of delivering this service was approximately €11.45m. The scheme includes most types of contraception, including Long Acting Reversible Contraception, although condoms and the copper coil are not covered.
The National Condom Distribution Service (NCDS), which was established in 2015, distributes free condoms and lubricant sachets to HSE services and other organisations working directly with individuals and groups who may be at increased risk of negative sexual health outcomes.
A variety of services and organisations typically order condoms and/or lubricant sachets from the NCDS. These include statutory services, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or community organisations, student unions and student health centres. The NCDS also provides condoms and lubricant sachets to support sexual health promotional campaigns and educational initiatives. In 2018, figures indicate that 409,319 condoms and 287,565 lubricant sachets were delivered through the NCDS. Data provided by the HSE show that €35,243 was spent on condoms in 2018.
The Deputy may also wish to note that the Minister has established a Working Group to examine the various policy, regulatory and legislative issues arising in relation to improving access to contraception.