Pharmacy regulator consults on new standards for registered pharmacies

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has launched a consultation on major changes to the way in which registered pharmacies across Great Britain are regulated

Patients and the public, pharmacy professionals and representative bodies are being asked to give their views on new standards that all registered pharmacies across Great Britain will have to meet.

The consultation, Modernising pharmacy regulation, also sets out the GPhC’s proposals for how it will make sure that pharmacies are delivering the outcomes required by the new standards, and the action it will take if the standards are not being met.

Launching this important consultation, Bob Nicholls, Chair of the GPhC, said:

“Protecting patients is at the heart of this new, modern approach to pharmacy regulation. We have set out clear outcomes that we expect to see in pharmacies to ensure safe and effective practice.  Pharmacy owners and superintendents bear the responsibility for achieving those outcomes in their pharmacy for their patients. 

“We believe that this will be far more effective than imposing a detailed step by step rule book.  It means that the new standards will work well for all types of pharmacy now and in the future.  This is vital at a time when pharmacy is changing quickly, as it takes on greater responsibilities to help improve the health and well-being of patients and the public.

“The draft standards set out what patients and the public should be able to expect from their local pharmacy. Pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists will have the responsibility of meeting the standards, but everyone working in a pharmacy will need to be familiar with the outcomes that have to be achieved.

“We want to hear the views of as many individuals and organisations as possible during the consultation, through events across Great Britain and a dedicated website where people can respond to key questions about the proposals.”

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, added:

“This consultation represents a significant opportunity for people to shape how pharmacy services will be managed and delivered in the future. 

“We recognise that our proposed standards are different from the more detailed rules-based approach that pharmacy is used to. The onus will be on pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists to decide how they meet these standards.  It will also mean a significant change to the way pharmacies are inspected, but it is important to emphasise that this new approach is not about catching people out; it is about supporting pharmacies to meet the standards.”

A new model for inspecting pharmacies and enforcing the standards will be developed once the standards have been approved.  The consultation sets out proposals to take a ‘risk-based’ approach, prioritising inspections for registered pharmacies where there is a higher risk to patients and the public, because of the services they provide or other concerns.

The consultation asks a series of questions about the new vision for pharmacy regulation, including whether additional guidance might be needed for specific areas of practice, such as for internet pharmacies.

The consultation was open until 7 May 2012.