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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
More inWhite Papers  

inspection1November 4 2015

The pharmacy regulator says a study of the system it has introduced to regulate and inspect pharmacies has described it as “working well”.

 

However, as the current pharmacy premises inspection regime was only introduced in November 2013, the report authors say: “There is no clear-cut evidence as to whether the new approach is helping sustain improvements in community pharmacy.” Concerns were also raised by pharmacists and the General Pharmaceutical Council’s own inspectors regarding the lack of clarity and differentiation between the ratings system that has been introduced.

The study was carried out by ICF Consulting Services which submitted its findings to the GPhC in August. It used an online survey which generated 5,350 responses, as well as 18 qualitative interviews, and a further 20 qualitative semi-structured depth interviews.

The main finding was that “the new GPhC framework seems to be working well according to those working in community pharmacies, GPhC inspectors and stakeholder organisations.

“Standards are generally well understood by community pharmacy professionals because they set out clearly what is expected to meet the standards. Further, there is evidence that the current framework encourages community pharmacy professionals to act on their own initiative when meeting the regulatory standards.”

However, the study warns that “some community pharmacy professionals still practise a compliance approach (so-called tick-box approach) to regulation, focused on achieving a narrow set of targets, rather than adopting a more systematic approach to improvement which requires an understanding of the drivers of continuous improvement.” The authors suggest that this should diminish over time as pharmacists become used to the new format of pharmacy inspection.

It notes that inspectors would like more guidance on how to rate pharmacies, with practical examples to help link pharmacy evidence to the inspection framework. Nor is there sufficient information about what evidence and measures pharmacy teams need to prepare in order to achieve a certain rating, it says.

Duncan Rudkin, GPhC Chief Executive, commented: “We are committed to using evidence to inform our decision making and this study gives us important insights into how our inspection model is working. It is very encouraging that the majority of pharmacy professionals agree that inspections are helping to deliver real improvements in patient safety and the care people receive from pharmacies.

“The study also highlights some useful feedback on key issues which we can use as we work to improve and refine our approach. We look forward to continuing to work closely with pharmacy stakeholders, patients and the general public as we further develop the way in which we regulate registered pharmacies.”

The publication of the report preceded the GPhC announcing its strategic plan for 2016-19. It builds on four key themes: “promoting a culture of patient-centred professionalism; putting patients and the public at the heart of what we do; delivering effective and efficient regulation; and keeping pace with changes in pharmacy.”

Among its actions will be to:

•    respond effectively and appropriately to the rising number of concerns raised with the GPhC about the fitness to practise of registrants
•    continue to review its model for the regulation of pharmacies
•    review the core professional, education and pharmacy standards, and the guidance which underpins them
•    build on GPhC-led debates on professionalism and the education of the pharmacy team
•    ensure patient and public outcomes are embedded in its work to develop new professional and education standards
•    develop its capability to share information and intelligence as appropriate with other regulatory bodies and organisations with a role in patient safety to help minimise regulatory burdens while better identifying any gaps in regulation.

Links:

GPhC pharmacy inspection announcement

GPhC ‘Evaluating the GPhC's approach to regulating community pharmacies’

GPhC strategic plan announcement

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