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Developing our approach to regulating registered pharmacies- next steps

17 January 2019

Our governing council agreed the principles that will underpin how we will regulate registered pharmacies in future at their meeting on 6 December. We are now beginning work to implement operational changes to how we regulate and inspect pharmacies in line with these principles.

The changes, which follow a major consultation across the sector and with patients and the public, include:

  • publishing inspection reports – and improvement action plans when relevant, on a new website - This will be designed so that the information is easy to search and analyse. Pharmacy owners will also be expected to display inspection outcomes in their pharmacies
  • moving to unannounced inspections as a general rule in the future - This will make sure the outcomes of the inspection reflect whether the pharmacy is meeting the standards every day
  • changes to the types of inspections - The new model will include three types of inspection: routine inspections, intelligence-led inspections and themed inspections
  • changing inspection outcomes - There will be two possible outcomes for an inspection overall: ‘standards met’ or ‘standards not all met’. There will also be four possible findings at the principle level: ‘standards not all met’, ‘standards met’, ‘good practice’ and ‘excellent practice’ 
  • requiring all standards to be met to receive an overall ‘standards met’ outcome - If any standard is found not to be met, this will result in a ‘standards not all met’ outcome overall
  • sharing examples of notable practice - Examples of notable practice identified through inspections will be published in a ‘knowledge hub’ on the new website. This will help encourage continuous learning and improvement in pharmacy.

We plan to start publishing inspection reports during the first quarter of 2019-2020 and will also implement the other changes in 2019-20.

“Over the last five years we have made significant improvements to how we regulate and inspect registered pharmacies. These further changes we are now making will help us to provide greater assurance to the public that pharmacy services are safe and effective, and to drive continuous improvement in the quality of care that people receive when using pharmacy services.” Duncan Rudkin, GPhC Chief Executive, said.

“I want to thank everyone who took part in our consultation for helping us to shape our future approach. What we heard has enabled us to refine our proposals and we will continue to engage with people and organisations across pharmacy as we work towards implementing the changes.”

In response to a need we identified through the consultation feedback, we will provide a range of information to help pharmacy owners, pharmacy professionals and the public to understand the new approach. This will include information on the process of publishing inspection reports.

To help us to test and further refine some of the operational measures, using feedback from the consultation, we have brought together an operational reference group of responsible pharmacists, superintendent pharmacists and representatives from pharmacy bodies from across the pharmacy sector in England, Scotland and Wales. The group held its first meeting in December where it considered topics including the format of notable practice examples, and how to approach sensitive commercial and personal identifiable information in reports. The group will continue to feed into the implementation process.