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What is the purpose of inspections?

The inspectors visit all registered pharmacy premises in Great Britain to ensure that they comply with all legal requirements and regulatory standards. The inspector will examine how the pharmacy operates with the aim of securing and promoting the safe and effective practice of pharmacy at the registered pharmacy premises.

If, during an inspection visit, an inspector finds that the pharmacy is not compliant with legal requirements or regulatory standards, the inspector will advise the pharmacist and the superintendent (or owner) how they can secure compliance. The inspector may initiate formal disciplinary proceedings if:

  • a complaint is received
  • there is persistent non-compliance
  • there is a significant patient safety issue.

Find out more about the investigations.

How often are premises inspected, and what do inspectors look for?

In general, every pharmacy will receive an inspection visit at least once every five years. If an inspector believes more visits are necessary, a premise might be inspected more frequently. This could be because the pharmacy provides services which are high risk, or because previous inspections or other information indicates that more frequent inspections are required.

Inspection reports

Following inspection, the pharmacy will get a copy of the controlled drug inspection report (England and Scotland only). This will also be sent to the Accountable Office and to the owner of the pharmacy or the Superintendent Pharmacist. Where appropriate some inspection visits may result in the pharmacy receiving a report on other issues identified during the inspection visit that do not relate to the management and use of controlled drugs.

The reports will identify areas of non-compliance with the relevant legal requirements and expected professional standards. It will also provide advice on how the pharmacy can improve and secure compliance.

What powers do the inspectors have to enter a registered pharmacy premises in order to inspect it?

Articles 10-12 of the Pharmacy Order 2010 gives a GPhC Inspector the power to enter any registered pharmacy premises at any reasonable hour in order conduct an inspection. The Inspector must provide evidence of their identity and that they are an authorised GPhC inspector.

Inspectors are not obliged to notify premises that they want to carry out an inspection. However, in the majority of cases they will send a pharmacy a notification of visit letter and a self-assessment form prior to their inspection.

By notifying the pharmacy of the visit and requesting the pharmacist in charge of the pharmacy to complete the self-assessment form, this allows the pharmacy team time to prepare for the inspection visit. This means that the inspection visit can then be undertaken in a more efficient manner with minimum disruption.