GPhC’s approach to regulating and inspecting pharmacies is “working well”

A major study commissioned by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has found that there is consensus among pharmacy professionals that inspections of pharmacies in Great Britain are helping to improve patient safety and the services pharmacies offer to patients and the public

More than 3,700 people working in or responsible for community pharmacies responded to an online census conducted by ICF International on behalf of the GPhC. In-depth interviews were also conducted with stakeholders, community pharmacy professionals, inspectors and trade associations.

The study concludes that the GPhC’s approach to regulating registered pharmacies, introduced in November 2013, is perceived to be working well. 

The standards for registered pharmacies are generally well-understood; the majority of community pharmacy professionals (86%) reported that they are aware of the standards. And 98% of pharmacy professionals who have experienced an inspection pointed to the importance of the GPhC inspector’s feedback during the inspection process in helping them to meet and improve on standards.

There was also widespread agreement that inspection reports help pharmacies to improve their services to patients and the public; 92% of those who had been inspected agreed that inspection reports are valuable to implement improvements in quality and performance, and 87% agreed that reports help them focus their efforts on the areas of most relevance to patient safety.

Developing action plans when one or more standards were not met was also felt to help pharmacy professionals to focus on the issues of most importance to patients: 95% of those who developed action plans found it helpful to reflect on the inspector's findings and 96% reported that it helped them define their priorities for improvement.

The study also highlighted some feedback for the GPhC to consider as it continues to develop and refine its approach. Concerns were expressed by some respondents about the current ratings model, with some suggesting there was a lack of clarity and differentiation between ratings. And there was a suggestion that the time in which pharmacies have to make improvements identified through action plans should be extended.

Commenting on publication of the study, Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:

“At the heart of our approach to inspections is a focus on driving improvement in pharmacy practice and on providing assurance to people using pharmacy services.

“We are committed to using evidence to inform our decision making and this study gives us important insights into how our inspection model is working. It is very encouraging that the majority of pharmacy professionals agree that inspections are helping to deliver real improvements in patient safety and the care people receive from pharmacies.

“The study also highlights some useful feedback on key issues which we can use as we work to improve and refine our approach. We look forward to continuing to work closely with pharmacy stakeholders, patients and the general public as we further develop the way in which we regulate registered pharmacies.”

The full report is available on here. A copy of the detailed annexes can be found here.