Focus on quality

A quality systems resource for pharmacy has been launched as a beta version for consultation. RPS professional support pharmacist Wing Tang explains how the hub can help pharmacy teams embed quality in the services they offer.

Quality system diagram PharmacyQS

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if quality was the first thing that came to mind when pharmacy was mentioned to patients, regulators, governments and commissioners? This was the aspiration behind the creation of — a quality systems resource for pharmacy.

Created by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Pharmacy Forum of Northern Ireland, the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK and a diverse group of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, this online tool is now ready to be shared. Feedback on the beta version is invited until the end of September 2014.

Why quality?

Within healthcare, quality is generally accepted to be patient-centred, safe, evidence-based, efficient, timely and equitable.

The quality system can be viewed as the cogs within a team or organisation that ensure good standards of healthcare. In a genuine quality system, the system cogs (good leadership, right culture, good governance, customer management and a capable workforce) work together so that there is a focus on learning and improvement. Delivering these various elements can be challenging. Nevertheless, it is important for quality systems to be in place for quality improvement to flourish.

If we learn from quality systems, there are benefits for all.

Patients will receive better quality care when the system is geared towards learning and improvement. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will benefit from better workplace environments because key parts of a genuine quality system empower staff to speak up and enable a “just culture”. A quality system will help healthcare providers thrive in regulatory and national healthcare environments that are increasingly looking for evidence of quality and improvements. And the reputation and influence of pharmacy can be enhanced by a commitment to quality.

Source: Royal Pharmaceutical Society

The resource

The resource is a platform that introduces pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to quality improvement concepts and recognised quality systems. It signposts to existing resources and also acts as a repository of pharmacy improvement stories to help spread best practice.

Some people might use the resource pro-actively to improve their systems or workforce. Others might be looking for opportunities for continuing professional development which can be applied in the workplace.

Pharmacy teams may turn to reactively when feedback, incidents, near-misses or audit results indicate that improvements need to be made. In such cases, the resource can help individuals learn about different quality improvement approaches, or can be scanned for examples where quality systems have been used to resolve similar issues.

The resource could also be useful before and after a pharmacy inspection, because understanding the basic parts of a quality system can help pharmacy professionals to recognise whether or not their workplace has one in place and identify areas for development.

If the quality system is working well, and supports pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to deliver quality healthcare, then this is likely to be reflected in the outcome of an inspection.  

Join in

We’ve designed the web resource to be highly accessible, keeping jargon to a minimum and working intuitively on smartphones, tablets and computers. The menu interface enables users to find the parts that interest them most, and we have worked to create content that teaches, signposts and inspires.

It is a collaborative resource and, with your help, we are looking to improve and build upon the illustrations of how pharmacy teams have improved their quality systems or used specific quality improvement tools.

Have a look at the resource, telling us what you think and contributing a vignette from your pharmacy team (





Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 26 July/2 August 2014, Vol 293, No 7820/1;293(7820/1):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20065919

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