Contractors will no longer require a third party to assess whether they are eligible to become a healthy living pharmacy (HLP), under plans unveiled by Public Health England (PHE).
From next April, pharmacists will be able to decide for themselves if they are worthy to reach the lowest level of the HLP programme, PHE director of health and wellbeing Kevin Fenton said at a PHE event last week (November 6).
Under the current model, contractors must be accredited by a local commissioner before they can reach each of three HLP levels. Commissioners decide locally which services a pharmacy must deliver to achieve these levels.
The new system will allow contractors to gauge whether they have met a national standard of entry into the first level of the HLP scheme, Mr Fenton told C+D. Contractors will still need commissioner accreditation to progress to the second or third HLP levels.
Improving access and “standardising” entry should “raise awareness” of the programme among pharmacies and patients, Mr Fenton said.
“We have to be clear about the currency and the meaning of HLPs, so if you’re a member of the public you [understand] what you’re getting,” he said.
PHE will develop a self-assessment tool “over the next couple of months”, with plans to pilot the system before “scaling up” in April, he said.
Mr Fenton also committed to boost the number of HLPs across the UK from 1,850 to a total “closer to 3,000”.
Opening up the HLP model should aid this increase by making commissioners more willing to fund pharmacy services in their areas, he stressed. “At the moment you have areas where there are no level one-accredited HLPs, so it’s hard for [contractors] to have a conversation with commissioners,” he added.
Is PHE right to allow HLP self-assessment?
President, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Mr Soni told C+D that the new model will give commissioners “assurance” that pharmacies are ready to deliver services, which will lead to more commissioning. “As competitive tendering grows, pharmacy can show evidence of delivery,” he added.
Teacher-practitioner at the University of Central Lancashire
Ms Brown said a move to self-assessment will “dilute” the HLP model, making it “meaningless”.“It’s difficult to be objective about one’s own practice sometimes; [it] needs an outside eye,” she said.