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Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

General News

Health Checks off to a great start in reformed NHS

Community pharmacy NHS health check services are going well and look set to go from strength to strength in the reformed NHS, LPCs and experts have reported.

Health Diagnostics, which offers a solution to help commissioners and providers set up health check schemes and has worked with community pharmacies in several areas of the country, says it has seen several community pharmacy schemes doing well in recent months.

Marketing support Manager Matt Mellor says: “We’ve seen a number of different approaches to the schemes and some pharmacies have been really actively engaging with patients." With all the changes coming into play in the NHS, Matt says he thinks community pharmacies could have an even bigger role in delivering public health services in the future, “not least because they are ideally placed to do so as trusted members of their communities”.

Cumbria success

In Cumbria a health check service rolled out late last year and more than 1,000 checks have been delivered across the 25 community pharmacies taking part in the scheme so far.

Contractors are paid £25 per test, with each costing them around £5 in consumables, and as the checks can take around 20 minutes to half an hour, all the participating pharmacies have one or more technicians trained to deliver them as well as the pharmacist.

The checks, along with all other public health services in Cumbria, have been commissioned through until October 2014.

Jeff Forster, Chief Officer at Cumbria LPC, says: “Our pharmacies have been chugging away at these and they’re going really well. GPs in the area have also been commissioned to provide health checks so there is in effect some competition, but pharmacies have really got on board with this and are looking to generate at least £2-3,000 of extra income each year.”

The LPC reports that the health checks and other public health services have been extremely welcome for its contractors. “We’ve been proactively trying to make contact with people in the Area Team and other commissioning bodies but not had much luck so far so the public health department really have been the light in the darkness for us,” says Jeff.

Sefton pharmacies have also been delivering health checks with their scheme transferring to the local authority this month. In Sefton the service began as a pilot with the full service eventually commissioned from those pharmacies who engaged actively during that trial period.

Alan Woodcock, LPC secretary, is also optimistic about the future for his local contractors: “Things are going very well indeed in Sefton. All of our services have been rolled over to the new commissioners, both the local authority and the CCG, so our contractors should see no change to local services. And with others on the horizon I think for us the new NHS is likely to result in an increase in local services, rather than any losses.”

Durham Checks4life

And in County Durham and Darlington there has been similar good news following a successful health checks pilot run through 8 pharmacies in the area.

The scheme has now been rebranded as a ‘Checks4life’ programme in County Durham, still funded by public health budgets, where it will be delivered via the 23 Healthy Living Pharmacies as well as some pharmacies who were involved in the initial pilot but aren’t HLPs. The scheme includes an option to offer patients a mini MOT as well as the full NHS Health Check, with pharmacies paid £15.00 and £25.00 for these respectively.

LPC Chief Officer Greg Burke, says: “Our pharmacies have been working with Health Diagnostics and have found some of their tools very useful – a particularly good one has been the “queuing” diagram which shows out of 100 people where the patient stands in terms of likelihood of having a heart attack/stroke. That has been very powerful.”

Health Checks Top Tips: How to recruit patients to your health check service

1. Get on social media

While having a FaceBook page might not feel right for every pharmacy, social media websites can be a great way to engage with patients and let them know about new services. Matt Mellor, of Health Diagnostics, says some community pharmacies have been very active in this area and as well as enabling them to recruit patients to their health check services, it has meant they can stay in touch to share good practice.

2. Go back to school

Jeff Forster, Chief Officer at Cumbria LPC, says even in a pharmacy serving a relatively small number of patients he has been able to run a very successful health checks scheme, with a letter sent out through local schools to highlight the service to parents boosting recruitment.

3. Place an ad

Local media can be a great way to reachmembers of the public who might not normally engage with health services. Health Diagnostics says putting adverts in local media has helped some pharmacies to recruit patients to their health check, services.

4. Recruit every patient you can

In County Durham there has been little official marketing for health check services in pharmacies so far, but LPC Chair Dawn Cruickshank has successfully recruited patients by taking an active approach with her staff, checking every patient coming into the pharmacy to see if they are eligible for a health check and talking to them before they leave if they are.

5. Visit local businesses

In Cumbria commissioners have agreed to allow the community pharmacy health checks service to be offered by pharmacists off site, and the LPC says some contractors are looking to speak to local businesses, offering to visit offices so staff can have checks.

Posted 12 April 2013

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