The HLP model, which was first piloted in Portsmouth in 2009, aims to help reduce health inequalities among local populations, by offering services such as weight management, smoking cessation and sexual health.
Pharmacies can now claim up to £1,280 under the government’s quality payments scheme if they can prove they are level one HLP-accredited by either the April 2017 or November 2017 review points.
Mike Holden, principal associate at consultancy Pharmacy Complete, which helps pharmacies to become HLPs, said the “massive uplift” in the number of pharmacies looking to become HLP accredited is “undoubtedly” because of the qualifying criteria under the quality payments scheme.
“We were already working with a number of contractors across England,” he told C+D last Wednesday (February 15). “But by the summer we will have trained around 3,000 people this year.”
According to PHE figures, there were over 2,100 accredited – or on their way to being accredited – HLPs in January 2016, with 3,500 health champions.
HLP is “more than just a quality mark”
Deborah Evans, managing director of Pharmacy Complete, who led the national HLP pathfinder work programme, said she is “positive that NHS England has recognised that HLPs are an important part of pharmacy’s future, by putting the quality payments against the achievement”.
“I’m also positive about the fact that pharmacies get reimbursed for the investment they put into staff development (see below),” she added.
Ms Evans said that becoming a HLP is a good way to demonstrate “[pharmacies'] improved offerings to the community [they] serve”. It is also “a really good opportunity to become relevant to local commissioners”, she added.
However, she stressed that becoming a HLP must not be a “tick-box exercise”.
“If you sign up to become a HLP, you're signing up to an ethos where you put the community's health and wellbeing at the centre of what you do.
“It is not something you do on two days a year to achieve your quality payments. It’s something you maintain as a way of operating,” she added.
From local schemes to national criteria
The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) has been commissioned to pilot the new “profession-led self-assessment process” for HLPs outlined by PHE in 2016.
However, Mr Holden said this pilot of “only 500” pharmacies does not take into account the "thousands" of pharmacies already registered as HLPs.
“You may have been HLP accredited from a local scheme, but if that can’t be mapped to the national criteria then you either have to start again or build on what you’ve done already before you self-declare,” he said.
Pharmacy Complete is working with PHE and RSPH to help simplify the process for pharmacies and commissioners, he added.
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