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Duncan’s blog: Pharmacy regulation for the future

17 May 2018

A vital component for delivering professional, safe and effective care is the environment in which health professionals operate. Strengthening the regulation of the places in which they work is therefore a critical part of assuring and improving care.

I want to talk about some of the work we are undertaking to strengthen our regulation of registered pharmacies. This includes a new major consultation, and new guidance for pharmacy owners on ensuring a safe and effective pharmacy team.

Developing our approach

Today (17 May 2018) we launched a major consultation on how we are planning to develop our approach to regulating registered pharmacies. This includes publishing inspection reports for the first time. These proposals, if taken forward, would significantly change how we regulate pharmacies., We want to hear from you about our proposed approach to make sure we are getting it right.  We also want to know what you think the impact will be for pharmacy owners, the pharmacy team and, most importantly, the people using pharmacy services.

Over the last five years we have made significant strides in how we regulate registered pharmacies. The independent evaluation we commissioned and the feedback we have received suggest our approach is working well.  Since we introduced the new approach to inspections in 2013, we have inspected around 13,000 registered pharmacies across Great Britain and expect to have inspected every registered pharmacy in Great Britain by the summer.  And we have found that the vast majority of pharmacies (85%) were meeting all of the standards we set.

It is now time to reflect upon and improve our current approach. As a regulator we want to move to a more flexible and agile way of working, so that we can more effectively respond to the changing needs of patients and the public and to changes in pharmacy.  We will also soon have new legal powers, including powers to publish inspection reports.

We aim to strengthen the assurance we provide to the public that pharmacies are meeting standards and will help to drive continuous improvement in the quality of pharmacy services and care. As part of this, our new approach will increasingly use information and intelligence, using our data and insight to effectively target our resources where they can have the most impact.

You can read about our proposals in this Regulate article

And then please don’t miss your opportunity to respond to the consultation and help to shape the final proposals- you can respond here to our online survey 

New guidance for pharmacy owners

You may recall we consulted last year on new guidance for pharmacy owners. This outlines what they are expected to do to make sure everyone in the pharmacy team can provide safe and effective services to patients and the public.

We received a lot of very helpful feedback through the consultation, which our Council has discussed in detail at its recent meetings.

In the consultation, we had proposed some changes to the regulatory framework for unregistered members of the pharmacy team.  After carefully considering the feedback, we have decided further work is needed in this area before we make any final decisions. This will be taken forward as part of our ongoing programme of reviewing the standards of education and training for the pharmacy team.

Another key theme in the feedback related to staffing in registered pharmacies, and in response we have added a new section in the guidance about what pharmacy owners should do to make sure there are enough staff, suitably qualified and skilled, to provide pharmacy services safely and effectively.

At our May Council meeting last week, our Council agreed that we can shortly publish this new guidance, once a few final changes are made.  Please look out for this guidance, which we expect to publish next month, and consider what it means for you in your role and for those you work with.