COVID-19 Q&A: for pharmacy owners

We have compiled answers to the questions we are being asked in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Categorised by theme, use the links below to navigate to the relevant section. 

Last reviewed 7 October 2020.

Pharmacy inspections

Employing a provisionally-registered pharmacist

Training for temporary support staff

COVID-19 antibody testing

Communicating with patients and public who don't speak English  

Pharmacy inspections

Are you still carrying out any inspections during the coronavirus pandemic?

During the first part of the pandemic, we stopped routine pharmacy inspections, providing support to registered pharmacies on their arrangements and plans, to help manage pressures and challenges during the pandemic. Examples of good practice can be found on our knowledge hub.

Since the beginning of August, our inspectors have been visiting pharmacies that had previously not met all the standards, initially focusing on those pharmacies with published inspection reports where a six month re-inspection was due. Our inspectors are visiting these pharmacies to check whether they are meeting all the standards for registered pharmacies, and the inspector will produce a report for publication. 

During this extended period of social distancing, we will also be continuing with our support calls to pharmacies to discuss their contingency planning and, as we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to act quickly on any information we receive which suggests a risk to patient safety by undertaking intelligence led inspections

How can I contact my inspector for advice about coronavirus?

You can send an email to and your query will be passed onto an inspector or other relevant member of the team.  

Employing a provisionally-registered pharmacist

What requirements do I need to meet if I employ a pharmacist on the provisional register?

We have set out the essential regulatory requirements you must meet in Employing a provisionally-registered pharmacist [PDF 484.34 KB].  The requirements include carrying out a risk assessment before the provisionally-registered pharmacist starts their role.  

Training for temporary support staff

We have temporary support staff helping us in the pharmacy during the pandemic. Is there any training they can do to help them in their roles?

Buttercups training offer several online courses for different pharmacy support staff roles. Find out more in the COVID-19 section of their website. We recommend you also contact your current training provider for advice.   

COVID-19 antibody testing

Can I offer COVID-19 antibody tests within the pharmacy? 

We expect pharmacies to adhere to guidance from the public health agencies in Great Britain. 

Public Health England currently advises against the use of rapid point of care tests – where results can usually be obtained within 10 minutes – due to insufficient information about their accuracy and suitability for diagnosing COVID-19. In light of this current public health advice, it is not appropriate for rapid antibody test to be sold in community pharmacies or recommended by pharmacy professionals at this point in time.

Our Chief Executive has set out our position in a letter to pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists. [PDF 204.66 KB]

When made aware that a pharmacy is offering these tests we will write to them to tell them to stop doing so.

We are actively monitoring guidance from Public Health England and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency, regarding other types of antibody testing.

As set out in our standards, pharmacy professionals must communicate effectively to ensure the delivery of person-centred care. In the case of COVID-19 non-rapid antibody testing, this includes providing appropriate information and checking a person’s understanding, so that patients and the public are making an informed decision about whether to pay for such a test.   


Communicating with patients and public who don't speak English

Are there any resources available to help me communicate about COVID-19 with patients and the public visiting my pharmacy who do not speak English?

Doctors of the World has translated the latest NHS guidelines on COVID-19 into 44 languages.

You can translate the information on our website using the ReciteMe tool via the ‘Accessibility tools’ link on the top navigation bar.

You may also want to speak to local voluntary organisations representing different communities in your area, if you need specific support with translation.