The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is planning to publish its inspection reports, and issue simple ‘met’ or ‘not met’ ratings of pharmacies.
It has also proposed that inspections will be unannounced “as a general rule in the future, to ensure the outcomes reflect whether the pharmacy is meeting the standards every day”.
The proposals are included in a draft consultation paper discussed at the GPhC council’s April meeting; it is expected that the consultation will officially launch before the summer.
In the draft consultation document, the GPhC proposes six key changes to its approach to regulating registered pharmacies, including the introduction of a new inspection model made up of three types of inspections: routine inspections, intelligence-led inspections and themed inspections.
The intelligence-led inspections will be conducted quickly in response to information received from others. Themed inspections will involve visiting a selection of pharmacies to focus on specific issues, in order to get a better understanding of issues, their causes and effects.
The GPhC proposes that there will only be two possible outcomes from an inspection — ‘met’ or ‘not met’; registered pharmacies must meet all 26 standards to get an overall ‘met’ outcome. If it is decided that the standards are not met, the pharmacy will be given a mandatory improvement action plan, the draft document says.
A significant change proposed in the draft document is the introduction of the publication of inspection reports, which will be made possible by the commencement of the Pharmacy (Premises Standards, Information Obligations, etc.) Order 2016, which the GPhC said it expected soon.
Papers presented to the GPhC council meeting say it has already begun work developing a new website where the public will be able to access inspection reports. Examples of notable practice identified through inspections will be held within a ‘knowledge hub’ on the website so it is “easy to search and analyse”.
“Our hope is that it will strengthen assurance for the public to be able to look at individual pharmacies and check on the public record that the pharmacy they are using is one that meets the standards,” said Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC.
“By publishing information about individual pharmacies, as well as aggregated information, learning points and notable practice, we will provide an evidence base to support and encourage improvement across the sector,” he added.
The current inspection model has been operating since 2013 and, according to Rudkin, the GPhC will soon have inspected every pharmacy in the country against the standards for registered pharmacies.
He said the GPhC had “learned a lot” from the process, and he hoped that the pharmacy profession had too.
“It feels like it’s time to take stock to review how we can make inspection even more useful, to make it more transparent, to improve the accountability of pharmacy regulation and more importantly of pharmacy itself,” he said.
The draft consultation document says the council will expect to receive an analysis report from the consultation in the second part of 2018 and, following that, a report will be published detailing the GPhC’s decision on how it plans to proceed.