Analysis of over 14,000 inspection reports finds vast majority of pharmacies are meeting standards
Members of the public will be able to find out for the first time if a pharmacy inspected by the pharmacy regulator has met all of the required standards.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has begun publishing pharmacy inspection reports on a new website, after getting the legal powers to do so and consulting on plans for publishing reports with patients and the public and the pharmacy sector. This major change for pharmacy will help to inform and assure the public about the standards they can expect from pharmacies and drive improvement in pharmacy services.
The new pharmacy inspections publication site has been designed so that members of the public can easily find and use information about pharmacies they use. They will be able to see if a pharmacy that has been inspected since April 2019 has met or has not met all of the standards for registered pharmacies and how well a pharmacy is performing against five principles.
Where a pharmacy has not met all the standards, an improvement action plan will also be published. Members of the public taking part in the consultation emphasised that they wanted to be able to see improvement action plans, so they could be assured that improvement was underway and be informed about what steps the pharmacy was taking to meet the standards, and that this was being monitored.
People working in pharmacy will be able to easily find information that is relevant for them, including by searching across all inspection reports. The new site also features an online ‘knowledge hub’ for the pharmacy team, with anonymised short examples of excellent, good and poor practice identified through pharmacy inspections. This knowledge hub was developed in response to feedback from the pharmacy sector about how useful they found examples of notable practice shared by the inspectors during inspections. It has been designed so pharmacy owners and pharmacy teams can quickly find examples relevant for them at any time, which they can use to learn from others and to improve outcomes for patients and the public using their services.
Learning from inspection:
The GPhC has also published a new report sharing what it has learnt from carrying out over 14,000 inspections covering every registered pharmacy in Great Britain since 2013.
These inspections were carried out under the GPhC’s previous approach to inspections, in which pharmacies received one of four possible ratings; excellent, good, satisfactory or poor. This analysis shows that the vast majority of pharmacies (over 85%) met all of the standards set by the regulator.
The analysis also identified some key themes, patterns and trends which every pharmacy and pharmacy team can use to improve. Six standards, including the standards on managing risks, reviewing the safety and quality of pharmacy services and safe and effective service delivery, were identified as having the strongest influence on the pharmacy’s performance - so when these were found to be good or poor, the pharmacy was also more likely to be good or poor overall.
The analysis also identified that pharmacies with particular characteristics, including being in a hospital (1), being part of a larger pharmacy chain or being in a rural location, were more commonly rated as good. Community pharmacies, and particularly single independent pharmacies or ones that were part of a small chain, were more commonly in the smaller group of pharmacies that did not meet one or more standards. However all six pharmacies with an overall rating of excellent were community pharmacies, and four of the six were single independent pharmacies or part of a chain of between 2-5 branches, indicating that smaller community pharmacies are also able to demonstrate excellent performance.
Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:
“Publishing inspection reports for the first time is a significant milestone in pharmacy regulation and gives the public and the pharmacy sector access to a wealth of information that they can use to inform the decisions they make. We believe it will give greater assurance to patients and the public that almost all pharmacies are meeting standards, and that we make sure those pharmacies not meeting standards take the necessary steps to do so.
“We know from carrying out thousands of inspections that pharmacies will only perform well against the standards if pharmacy owners have made sure that their pharmacies have the right governance, systems and culture in place, and are investing in their staff. Once these elements are in place, the pharmacy staff then are able to deliver good and excellent practice for the patients and the public using their services.”
Learning from the analysis has helped to inform the GPhC’s future approach to inspections; for example, when carrying out intelligence-led inspections, where the focus of the inspection can be tailored to the intelligence or concern received, our inspectors will always cover the six standards that have the strongest influence on a pharmacy’s performance.
The learnings from the analysis will also be used more widely; for example, the findings in relation to the impact of governance and systems on the performance of staff will help to inform the GPhC’s future fitness to practise strategy, and how the wider context is considered when deciding the best way to address concerns about individual professionals as well as pharmacies.
(1) 97.5% of pharmacies included in the analysis were community pharmacies, 2.4% were hospital pharmacies and 0.2% were prison pharmacies.
Key facts about the new pharmacy inspections publication site:
- The new pharmacy inspections publication site features reports from inspections of pharmacies that have taken place since April 2019 and is updated on a daily basis with new reports
- Users can search for pharmacy inspection reports by postcode, street, town or pharmacy name
- Users can also search across all inspection reports using different criteria to find reports most relevant to them
- The new knowledge hub has been designed to highlight examples of excellent, good and poor practice for the key themes identified in the learning from inspections report, as well as examples for the standards that have a key role in driving performance and the standards that are most commonly found to be not met by pharmacies.
- The site includes links to NHS UK, NHS Inform and NHS Direct Wales, so people can find out further information about a pharmacy’s services and opening times, and to other regulators with a role in regulating healthcare services and medicines across Great Britain.
- The knowledge hub provides 24/7 access to examples of excellent, good and poor practice in pharmacy for the pharmacy team
- A pharmacy’s entry on the pharmacy register will show if a pharmacy has a published report and link to that report. The pharmacy’s profile page on the new inspections publication site also links to its entry on the register
- The homepage of the new pharmacy inspections publication site includes a link to a page displaying the inspection reports published in the last 28 days.
- Our new website can be found here: https://inspections.pharmacyregulation.org/
- You can read our report on learning from inspections here: https://inspections.pharmacyregulation.org/inspection-reports/learning-from-inspections