Public highly approves of Healthy Living Pharmacies, concludes evaluation report

An evaluation into Healthy Living Pharmacies (HLP) in England indicates the important role of the pharmacy team in supporting people with health and well-being advice. Of the 1,034 people who accessed health and well-being advice and/or an NHS service at an HLP, 21% said if they hadn’t accessed this support at an HLP, they wouldn’t have done anything. 60% said they would have gone to their GP.

The HLP concept is aimed at achieving consistent delivery of a broad range of high quality services through community pharmacies to improve health and well-being and to reduce health inequalities. All HLPs have at least one Health Champion, a specially trained member of staff, who is proactive in promoting health and well-being and signposting the public to appropriate services. The key question to be answered by the evaluation was 'could the early results seen in Portsmouth be replicated in other areas of the country with different demography and geography?'
 
20 areas representing 30 PCTs took part in the pathfinder programme and 14 of these were able to participate in the evaluation. HLP services were provided in areas with different levels of deprivation, city centre, urban or rural localities.  1,034 consultations with members of the public were evaluated and 153 HLPs completed a survey on the impact of being an HLP on their pharmacies and the teams working within them.
 
Improvements were seen in the majority of services evaluated: stop smoking, emergency hormonal contraception, minor ailments, alcohol awareness, weight management, medicines use reviews, new medicines service, substance misuse and a medication dispenser system. The service data suggested that the HLP concept was consistent with increased service delivery, improved quality measures and outcomes, and was applicable in areas with high or low levels of health need and deprivation. Findings included:

  • 21% of people surveyed wouldn’t have done anything if they hadn’t accessed a service or support in the HLP so would have missed out on the benefit of getting advice for improving their health and well-being   
  • 60% of peopled surveyed would have otherwise gone to a GP
  • Public feedback was positive with 98% saying they would recommend the service to others and 99% were comfortable to receive the service in the pharmacy
  • More people successfully quit smoking in HLPs than non-HLPs or prior to becoming a HLP
  • The number of people who accessed sexual health services and were provided with additional sexual health advice was greater than in non-HLPs
  • The acceptability of community pharmacy as a location for clients to receive an alcohol service and the relatively high levels of activity seen in HLPs compared with non-HLPs showed that HLPs could have an important contribution to this harm reduction service
  • HLPs were effective at delivering increased support for people taking medicines for long term conditions, through both Medicines Use Reviews and the New Medicine Service.  Activity was higher for both services in HLPs than non-HLPs or before HLP implementation in all but one site  

 
Health Minister Lord Howe said:

“There is no doubt Healthy Living Pharmacies can deliver excellent benefits to local communities. When I saw the impressive work in Portsmouth first hand, I was clear that this success should be shared across the country.

“I’m delighted the public recognises their value with almost all saying they would recommend it to others.

“This evaluation shows the work has been very positive and provides further evidence of the contribution Healthy Living Pharmacies make to improving the public's health locally."

Deborah Evans, HLP Pathfinder lead said:
 
“The evaluation clearly demonstrates the benefits that Healthy Living Pharmacies can bring to the public’s health.  There would be considerable benefit across the health and social care system by rolling out the concept more broadly. The commissioning challenge is how to take what’s happening in some  places to every  place, so that the whole population can benefit more from the uniquely positioned network that is community pharmacy.   What has been so truly inspiring about the initiative has been the delivery of services by the pharmacy team and especially the Health Champions. The evaluation has shown clearly the benefit of using the skills of the whole pharmacy team.   We are confident that community pharmacies have the necessary attributes to be front and centre of health improvement. The scale of the daily contact with the public as well as patients is unmatched anywhere else in healthcare and the sector’s track record in public health is building steadily.”

For further information, please contact the NPA Press Office on 01727 795901 or 07920 203051, or email communications@npa.co.uk .

The NPA is the UK’s leading trade body for community pharmacy.  Its core purpose is to represent, support and protect the interests of all community pharmacy across the UK.

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