This month in Pharmaceutical Field I highlight the important role community pharmacy plays in supporting the public’s health.
It is excellent news that we now have 9436 (88%) pharmacies in England declared as Healthy Living Pharmacies, this represents an additional 5% on the November 2017 declaration. For these pharmacies the key will be ensuring that all the HLP criteria continue to be met in order to maintain the status and thus be able to promote the quality mark.
Becoming an accredited HLP is just the beginning, its what HLPs then do differently, bigger and better that will define and differentiate them. This will then help them realise the benefits of the improved ethos, engagement, capability and activity that comes with doing the right things with the right people.
The next step is building on that capability and activity for a healthier future for their community and their pharmacy. Pharmacy Complete have a range of resources and courses to support this. Developing and demonstrating this capability and commitment should have its own benefits through increased productivity and delivery of both private and commissioned health promotion, prevention and protection services.
What we need to see now is the NHS and Public Health, at both national and local level, recognising the HLP asset to deliver against the Staying Healthy and other objectives within the recent NHS Plan consultation to reduce health inequalities and improve the health of the population. Good to see some early signs of engagement from PSNC and RPS with this consultation which requires new thinking focussed on NHS and public health needs both now and in the future.
NICE have launched this guidance – Community Pharmacies: promoting health and wellbeing.
It is important that pharmacy owners, pharmacists and pharmacy teams, particularly Health Champions, and local commissioners of both health and wellbeing services understand what the recommendations are and what this means for them.
This guideline covers how community pharmacies can help maintain and improve people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing, including people with a long-term condition. It aims to encourage more people to use community pharmacies by integrating them within existing health and care pathways and ensuring they offer standard services and a consistent approach. It requires a collaborative approach from individual pharmacies and their representatives, local authorities and other commissioners.
Summary of key recommendations
- Local commissioners, Health & Wellbeing Boards, community pharmacies and their representatives (e.g. LPCs) should work to integrate community pharmacy into existing care and referral pathways as health and wellbeing hubs.
- Interventions should be focused on local needs, be consistently of high quality, tailored to the individual, use professionally produced support materials and pharmacy team members delivering them should have the right skills and knowledge, e.g. in line with NICE guidance on behaviour change.
- Local commissioners should promote community pharmacy as an integral part of NHS primary care services.
- Community pharmacies should publicise their skills and services to increase the public’s knowledge and confidence in those services.
- Community pharmacies should proactively seek opportunities to promote people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. This includes raising awareness, providing information, advice and support, and signposting or referral to and from other services. This could happen when responding to requests for advice, selling OTC medicines or supplying prescription medicines and supporting a patient with a long-term condition such as diabetes or hypertension. The brief interventions could include the self-management of mild to moderate back pain, physical activity, smoking, healthy weight and diet, and alcohol consumption. A minimum dataset should be used to capture these interventions and referrals.
What does this mean for community pharmacies?
We believe that the guidance is a very good fit with the objectives and ethos of the Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP) model which we have supported since its conception. So those pharmacies that are already accredited HLPs and maintained their capability and activity in line with the HLP Criteria will be well placed to meet most or all of these recommendations.
At Pharmacy Complete we have gone beyond the core HLP criteria with our award-winning Health Champion development programme that we have created for pharmacy teams which includes our Knowledge into Action workshop, the RSPH Applied award in Health Improvement and the Supporting Behaviour Change Level 2 award plus Making Every Contact Count (MECC). We have also developed our Health Campaign service which uses only evidence-based, professional materials plus a topic knowledge piece and hints and tips to support the provision of the required minimum of six campaigns a year.
There will undoubtedly be some work for local public health, NHS and CCG commissioners to do on the integration and publicity recommendations; LPCs and Local Healthwatch should be holding them to account on this.
Public Health England (PHE) is launching a new adult health behaviour change programme on March 7 to help adults live longer, healthier and happier lives. PHE is calling on pharmacy to support this campaign. The campaign will focus on 7 key lifestyle behaviours:
- check yourself
- be smoke free
- eat well
- move more
- drink less
- stress less and sleep better
- support people to make simple changes
Many adults can expect to live into their mid-80s. Far too many people believe that a gradual deterioration in physical and mental health is an inevitable part of aging, but so much of how we age is down to the lifestyles we adopt. As the NHS Five Year Forward View made very clear, the nation has to get serious about prevention without which recent improvements in life expectancies will go backwards and health inequalities will widen.
The PHE campaign launches on March 7 on TV, in their communities, through social media and other channels. It will provide a great platform for pharmacy teams to initiate conversations with customers and patients about lifestyle behaviours and encourage them to do something about their health before it is too late.
A toolkit has been developed for community pharmacies to support the promote key health and wellbeing messages. This includes conversation starters, window decals, a poster a counter card and shelf barkers. You can place an order for a toolkit by calling 0300 123 1019, the order line will be open 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday until May 8 or until stocks run out.
This is a perfect opportunity for pharmacy teams, particularly Healthy Living Pharmacies and Health Champions, to demonstrate the value they add to the health and wellbeing of their communities by embracing the campaign and developing your own local activity plan utilising the PHE toolkit.
On a related matter, BMJ Open have published a systematic review of public health interventions undertaken by community pharmacies. The report concluded that commissioners should consider community pharmacy as an appropriate setting for the delivery of a number of public health intervention services.