What makes a good pharmacy?

To be considered as ‘good’ a pharmacy will need to be consistently good across the standards and demonstrate some positive outcomes for patients. A pharmacy therefore cannot be good if it fails any of the individual standards.

A good pharmacy is likely to conduct continuous and systematic reviews of its staff, their skills, operating procedures, records, risks (particularly those relating to medicines management and the premises), and patient needs. It will be both proactive and responsive to changing needs and demands and will continually improve the quality and safety of its services to patients. This will be facilitated by a working culture within the pharmacy that is patient-focused and which actively uses the views of patients and staff to improve services.

Characteristics of a good pharmacy

1) Performing well against most of the key standards

These pharmacies were meeting all individual standards and performing well (i.e. assessed as good) against most of the key standards – that is those relating to governance and risk management, the management of the pharmacy team, and the safety and effectiveness of services and medicines management, taking account of the context of the pharmacy.

2) Delivering services that were achieving good outcomes for patients

These pharmacies were providing healthcare services which were supporting good outcomes for patients in terms of the safety and quality of services they receive. For example, they could show that risks to individual patients were properly managed; they receive the right medication for their condition when they need it and the appropriate information for effective treatment. Any patients receiving advice on their general state of health, or support to self-manage their condition were able to make more appropriate and informed choices as a result.

3) Well-led and managed and the pharmacy’s systems, procedures and processes were applied consistently

These pharmacies had strong governance arrangements and were well-led and managed. Systems, procedures and processes for identifying, managing and reviewing risks were consistently complied with. This provided a high level of assurance with regard to the safety and quality of services their patients receive. They conducted continuous and systematic reviews of the key risks for the pharmacy, given their context; in particular, those relating to medicines management and the premises. They also regularly reviewed the skills of the pharmacy team, the operating procedures and compliance with record keeping requirements in place for the safe provision of services.

4) Empowering their well-trained staff

Their staff were well-trained and equipped with the skills and competences to deliver safe and effective services. Their working culture supported open and honest behaviour by staff who were encouraged to share their concerns about practice within the pharmacy and they routinely contributed ideas for improvements.

5) Presenting a professional image as a provider of healthcare

The design and level of maintenance and cleanliness of their premises, equipment and facilities presented a professional image for patients and the public, in keeping with the healthcare services provided.

6) Responsive to patient needs

Their pharmacy services were focused on and responsive to the needs of their patients. Feedback was actively encouraged from patients and used to improve patient experience and reduce risks. The pharmacy team is live to changing needs and demands for its services and makes changes as appropriate to meet these.

Good practice

You can read some examples of good practice we have seen through our inspections in our regular series of case studies, published in our online bulletin, Regulate:

Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults

Risk management in pharmacy

Confidentiality in pharmacy