Laura Reed, service development manager at Numark, suggests that HLP accreditation could limit the damage from funding cuts

Following the implementation of the funding cuts, the Department of Health has confirmed £75m of contractual funding will be allocated to the Quality Payments scheme. To claim quality criteria payments, pharmacies must first comply with four baseline criteria. They can then begin to accumulate up to 100 points (expected to be worth £64 each).

Becoming a Healthy Living Pharmacy Level one is at the forefront of these criteria and accounts for 20 of those points. However, a recent Numark survey found that just 28 per cent of pharmacists are aware of the requirements for becoming an HLP. Time constraints were the single most quoted barrier to becoming accredited.

What is an HLP?

From smoking cessation and alcohol brief interventions, to healthy living advice, emergency contraception and NHS Health Checks, HLP encourages pharmacy staff to have conversations with the local population on health issues and signpost them to specific services. The framework is underpinned by three enablers:

  • Workforce development – a skilled team to proactively support and promote behaviour change, improving health and wellbeing
  • Premises that are fit for purpose
  • Engagement with the local community, other health professionals (especially GPs), social care, public health professionals and local authorities.

There are a number of benefits to becoming an HLP – for the business, its staff and its customers. This was backed up by a recent Public Health England survey which revealed that 99 per cent of people are comfortable and happy with the service provided by HLPs, and 98 per cent would recommend accredited pharmacies to their families and friends.

Just 28 per cent of pharmacists are aware of the requirements for becoming an HLP

From a business point of view, the model builds on the great work that many pharmacies already do to promote healthy living and understand local health needs. Accreditation can serve as evidence for tenders, but can also help strengthen relationships with communities and increase footfall. This in turn may lead to increased service revenue and OTC sales. Additionally, HLP helps commissioners become more aware of the pharmacist’s public health role.

In terms of employee benefits, upskilling is a natural result of accreditation which requires proactive, skilled teams to deliver additional services. This leads to increased knowledge, awareness and motivation among staff. An engaged and motivated team is more confident in delivering health and wellbeing services.

For customers, an HLP pharmacy helps them to understand the range of services on offer. They also benefit from more personal interaction with pharmacy teams, seeing trusted advisors who can help them implement plans for a healthier lifestyle, as well as monitor their progress.

Gaining accreditation

The HLP Task Group of the Pharmacy and Public Health Forum has developed a new profession-led self-assessment process for Level 1 HLPs. Application is based on clear quality criteria and supported by a proportionate quality assurance process, both of which must be backed up with evidence of behaviour, activity, and the physical setup of the pharmacy. The pharmacist must also make a declaration of compliance on behalf of the pharmacy.

A key requirement for accreditation is to employ at least one member of staff who has undertaken the Royal Society for Public Health level two award in Understanding Health Improvement. Also, a team member in a position of authority within the pharmacy must undertake a leadership training course; these are regularly run by several LPCs. Pharmacists can also complete an online ‘Leadership for Healthy Living Pharmacy’ course via the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education.

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