What happens during an inspection?

During pharmacy inspections, our inspectors will be looking for evidence to show that the standards for registered pharmacies are met. The whole pharmacy team will need to understand the standards and think about what examples they can give to show how they are meeting the standards and what supporting evidence they can provide.

Unannounced inspections

Inspections will now be unannounced as a general rule. This is because we believe it is important for us to inspect a pharmacy as patients and members of the public find it and to see how well a pharmacy is meeting our standards day to day.

We have identified some situations where it will not be possible to carry out an unannounced inspection, including pharmacies in secure environments and airports.

Inspections will generally take around three hours, but the length will vary depending upon the nature of the pharmacy and the focus of the inspection.

Responsibility for meeting pharmacy standards lies with pharmacy owners. However, we realise that the pharmacy owner or superintendent may not be in attendance when the inspection takes place. Where this is the case, we will still carry out our inspection, even if on that day the Responsible Pharmacist is a locum. This is because pharmacies must meet our standards every day.

In situations where an inspector thinks that continuing an inspection may mean that patient safety may be put at risk, they will halt the inspection and resume it when it is safe to do so.

What inspectors will look at during an inspection

During the inspection, the inspectors will continue to speak to the pharmacy team as a whole rather than just the owner, superintendent or Responsible Pharmacist.

Inspectors will not be looking for a standard set of documents or practices. Instead, the owner and superintendent, in collaboration with the pharmacy team, must provide evidence of how they meet the standards.

Inspectors will ask a range of questions to help them understand the context in which a pharmacy is operating and use a ‘show and tell’ approach.

Our inspectors will gather and record evidence in a number of ways, including: 

  • Looking at written or documentary evidence
  • Observing interactions with patients 
  • Asking questions and posing scenarios to staff 
  • Testing systems, processes and procedures