Public Health England (PHE) is “committed” to doubling the number of healthy living pharmacies within five years, it has said.
PHE national director of health and wellbeing Kevin Fenton renewed his organisation’s pledge to “accelerate the role of HLPs”, and said it would ensure they grew from “around 1,000” to “more than 2,000 over the next three to five years”.
The organisation was also “arguing” for the sector to be used to “scale up some of the big chronic disease programmes”, he said. PHE was working with the NHS on its health check and national diabetes prevention programmes, as well as a dementia awareness campaign, to ensure pharmacy played “a key part”, Mr Fenton told the British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers’ (BAPW) annual conference last week (June 18).
Mr Fenton told C+D that PHE had been “absolutely clear before the election that pharmacy is going to play a critical role in the new health and social care system”. “We’re working with the NHS [and] GPs to support pharmacy’s ambition to be part of the local primary care family,” he said.
The organisation was “committed to continuing our championing and support of pharmacy”, and would work alongside the government's pharmacy and public health forum to identify the “most important areas for focus”.
"Pharmacy must be at the table"
“Given the current government’s focus on prevention and looking at ways we can support the NHS to both reduce demand and drive efficiency, pharmacy must be at the table and must be part of the solution,” he added.
PHE pledged to “accelerate” the expansion of the HLP network in a progress report on the pharmacy and public health forum last year, and Mr Fenton added that HLPs were of “tremendous benefit” to local communities.
“HLPs can be such an integral part of the local health system, providing greater choice and greater access [to] health improvement programmes,” he told C+D.
Last year, Mr Fenton told C+D that PHE saw pharmacy as a "critical partner" in tackling modern-day health problems.