Different types of inspections

Under our updated approach, we can use three types of inspection: routine inspections, intelligence-led inspections and themed inspections. This will enable us to use our resources in a more flexible way so that we can be more agile and responsive to information we hold, intelligence we receive and issues we identify within pharmacy.

Routine inspections

Every pharmacy in Great Britain will continue to have a routine inspection, to provide assurance to patients and the public that the standards for registered pharmacies continue to be met.  We are improving our approach to make sure our programme of inspections is increasingly more flexible and effective and is based on indicators of risk when deciding which pharmacies should be inspected first.

Pharmacies previously rated as poor, and those that received a rating of satisfactory with an action plan, will be inspected first. We will be able to see some of the patterns and trends that create problems for pharmacies, and this in turn will help us prioritise our future routine inspections.

There will also be other indicators that we will use when deciding which pharmacies should be inspected first. These may include:

  • when there has been a change of ownership
  • significant changes to the governance structures of a pharmacy, (such as a change in the superintendent pharmacist)
  • where the range of services is large and complex, and/or has changed significantly 

Intelligence-led inspections

We plan to build on our current approach to carrying out intelligence-led inspections, using information we receive from other people or organisations, including regulators, healthcare professionals and the public, as well as from journalists and the media. This means we will be able to more rapidly deal with risks or concerns raised with us.

We will ensure that the intelligence we receive is properly assessed so that we undertake intelligence-led inspections on the right cases and only when information is received from verifiable sources. We will also consider the scale and nature of any risk of harm to patients and members of the public, and where appropriate, the history of the pharmacy and any linked intelligence.

We may decide not to carry out an intelligence-led inspection, but instead the intelligence we receive may result in other forms of regulatory action, including providing guidance to the pharmacy or sharing the intelligence with another appropriate regulator or agency.

When we decide that we should carry out an intelligence-led inspection, we will determine whether to carry out a full inspection or a more targeted inspection where we only look at certain principles or standards.

We will adopt a proportionate and consistent approach to these inspections. We will undertake intelligence-led inspections only on those cases where there are immediate risks to patients and people would expect us to act quickly. We will inspect the pharmacy to understand the nature and extent of the risks, and, where appropriate, consider what action to take, including whether we need to use our enforcement powers.

Themed inspections

Themed inspections will involve visiting a selection of pharmacies to focus on specific themes or issues in more depth, and then producing a report identifying learning and good practice that can be shared across the pharmacy sector. We plan to introduce themed inspections, with the first themed inspection due to take place in the second half of 2019. As an example, we will be looking to undertake a themed inspection focusing on aspects of online pharmacies.