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Northern Ireland embracing HLPs

Having taken England by storm, the NPA's Deborah Evans explains how the HLP movement is making its way across the Irish sea

In a big case of practising what you preach, I recently took part in my first triathlon. A friend, Eilidh and I decided to get ourselves out of our exercise comfort zones in aid of a good cause.

Choose to Tri is a category within the Kilkenny Triathlon, which aims to raise awareness about the new research on METs and regular exercise, and how important it is to avoid and fight breast cancer.

A triathlon is one thing but we did make this more of an adventure by going over to Ireland, bike bags and wetsuits in tow and following a number of challenges on the way.

Absolutely worth every second of training for the huge sense of achievement in overcoming both physical and mental barriers; I discovered during training that I get motion sick when swimming in open water (not nice) and Eilidh didn't even own a bike when we started.

But I did learn about the importance of METs so please inform yourselves and spread the word that regular exercise really does make a difference.

HLP progress in Northern Ireland

I flew back from Dublin on the Sunday to then fly out to Belfast on the Monday morning for a very exciting meeting with a range of pharmacy and government stakeholders to explore the HLP concept in Northern Ireland. 

There was a definite buzz in the room, with it being described as a must do for Northern Ireland

All debated the benefits that extending the role that community pharmacy plays in health and wellbeing in Northern Ireland could bring to the public, community pharmacy and health service.

There was a definite buzz in the room, with it being described as a must do for Northern Ireland; this was great to hear. With all the current difficulties for community pharmacy in Northern Ireland, this could be a unifying and really positive platform on which to deliver public health outcomes and build a sustainable future. The next step is to agree a clear vision amongst all stakeholders and then action to make it happen. 

Flying the flag for Team HLP

I continue to hear of fantastic HLP stories across this country and you may have seen a great story in C+D this week about staff from Church Street HLP in Oswestry who attended a local music festival Osfest to raise people's awareness of pharmacy's offering.

The team provided advice on diet, alcohol consumption, exercise and safe sex (they gave away nearly 3,000 condoms) and monitored people's blood pressure and tested their lung age. And Bridlington Pharmacy, which has recently gained HLP status, has also been out and about at Sewerby Annual Charity Gala Festival where they did free blood pressure testing and used alcohol scratch cards to get people thinking more about their alcohol intake.

It's great to see HLPs thinking of inventive ways of raising awareness and engaging with people. Please do keep us updated with your HLP activities on the NHS network www.networks.nhs.uk.

Deborah Evans is the director in pharmacy at the NPA

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