Aston University Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP) Study

Professor Chris Langley, a researcher from Aston University, and Dipak Shah, a local community pharmacist, explain the role of Healthy Living Pharmacies (HLPs) and the results from the HLP study in the this video.

The idea of a Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP) and the associated quality kite mark was originally developed and piloted by Portsmouth NHS in conjunction with the pharmacies in their area.  Portsmouth’s interim report has shown the initiative was very effective in the Portsmouth area.

However, it is not yet known whether the concept is transferrable to other areas of the country with different populations.  An evaluation of the next wave of healthy living pharmacies, outside of the original area, will see if the idea can be effectively implemented at various “pathfinder” sites across the country, the then Heart of Birmingham teaching Primary Care Trust (HoBtPCT) being one of them.

In March 2011, HoBtPCT launched the HLP programme to encourage pharmacies (in the Heart of Birmingham) to work through a number of criteria in order to achieve HLP status. 
The idea behind the HLP scheme further develops the traditional role of a pharmacy from the basic services of dispensing medication and the sale of 'over the counter' products.

The HLP concept is built on the principle that pharmacies, with local knowledge of their communities combined with staff expertise and easy access, can provide opportunities to deliver health advice and additional services to the populations that they serve.

This is certainly not to say that non HLP pharmacies don’t already provide additional services and health advice. Some current schemes include; stop smoking services, free supplies of emergency hormonal contraception (e.g. 'the morning after pill'), early pregnancy testing, weight management services, to name but a few.

However, the difference between a 'Healthy Living Pharmacy' and a normal pharmacy is that an HLP has been awarded the HLP quality kite mark. The HLP mark will be promoted to the general public as a sign of consistent and high quality service provision. Further information on HLPs can be obtained from the Healthy Living Pharmacy Prospectus.

The Aston team:

  • Analysed and compared  data to see if being awarded the HLP quality mark makes a difference to the numbers of patients accessing services. The services we are looking at in particular include provision of emergency hormonal contraception ('the morning after pill'), early pregnancy testing, smoking cessation and the minor ailments scheme.  In order to do data were examined:
    • From the time periods before and after the pharmacy was awarded the HLP quality mark.
    • At Non-HLP sites (pharmacies that have chosen not become part of the HLP scheme) in comparison to HLP pharmacies.
  • Looked at the range of different patients accessing these services to identify whether HLPs are making a difference to the health and well-being of the communities they serve.
  • Spoke to pharmacists and pharmacy staff to obtain their views of participating in the HLP scheme.
  • Conducted an anonymous electronic questionnaire with patients who accessed the HLP delivered services to see what they thought of the service.
The study was originally commissioned by HoBtPCT and funded by the Pharmaceutical Trust for Educational and Charitable Objects (PTECO).

HoBtPCT has since been amalgamated into the Birmingham and Solihull NHS Cluster. However, the Aston University HLP Evaluation is specific to pharmacies in the Heart of Birmingham (HoB), which has a unique demography.

That is, the population in HoB:
  • Is highly diverse with a significant Black and Ethnic minority population.
  • Is younger than the national average.
  • Live in areas that are in the most deprived quintiles (3rd, 4th and 5th) compared to the national average.

The HLP study report comprises of an introductory chapter, followed by an overview of the data collection methodology and presentation of the results, from the three core stages of the research:

  • Chapter 2: Stage A – An analysis of service activity data. 
  • Chapter 3: Stage B – Interviews with service deliverers. 
  • Chapter 4: Stage C – The views of the service users. 


This is followed by Chapter 5, which summarises the results from the three stages of the project and a discussion on the key findings, before concluding and making recommendations for the future roll-out of HLPs and future research.