What happens when a pharmacy is inspected?

In most cases inspectors will send a letter to the pharmacy premises notifying them that the pharmacy will be inspected in the next four to six weeks.

We do not inform pharmacies of the date or time of the inspection as we believe it is important for us to inspect a pharmacy as patients and members of the public find it. Pharmacies should be meeting the standards every day and not simply for the purpose of an inspection visit.

Inspections will generally take around three hours, but the length will vary depending upon the nature of the pharmacy and the focus of the inspection.

Responsibility for meeting pharmacy standards lies with pharmacy owners and superintendents of company-owned pharmacies. However, we realise that the pharmacy owner or superintendent may not be in attendance when the inspection takes place. Where this is the case, we will still carry out our inspection, even if on that day the Responsible Pharmacist is a locum.   

During the inspection, the inspectors will speak to the pharmacy team as a whole rather than just the owner, superintendent or Responsible Pharmacist.

Inspectors will not be looking for a standard set of documents or practices. Instead, the owner and superintendent, in collaboration with the pharmacy team, must provide evidence of how they meet the standards. 

Our inspectors will gather and record evidence in a number of ways, including: 

  • Looking at written or documentary evidence
  • Observing interactions with patients 
  • Questioning and posing scenarios to staff 
  • Testing systems, processes and procedures

At the end of the inspection the inspector will go through their findings with the Responsible Pharmacist, which will be summarised in an inspection report.

Find out more about inspection reports.