Open access article
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.
To learn more about coronavirus, please visit: https://www.rpharms.com/resources/pharmacy-guides/wuhan-novel-coronavirus
The General Pharmaceutical Council has announced it will be stopping all routine inspections of pharmacies from 17 March 2020.
Instead, inspection teams will be helping pharmacies plan for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and share approaches that pharmacy teams are adopting, the regulator said.
The GPhC also said that it would begin to contact former pharmacy professionals who could be temporarily added to the register if a state of emergency was declared by government.
In the first instance, this would include registering former pharmacy professionals who had voluntarily removed themselves from the GPhC register or who were removed because they had not renewed within the past three years.
A statement issued by the regulator acknowledged that pharmacists would be “facing significant challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
It continued: “Our priority is to support you to give people safe and effective care. We will take a flexible, supportive and proportionate approach to regulation during this time, while continuing to focus on ensuring patient safety.”
Inspectors would be moving to providing a “supportive role”, the GPhC added.
“If one of our inspectors contacts you on the phone or visits your pharmacy, it will be to discuss your plans and arrangements for the pandemic.
“Our inspectors will be answering queries and providing support to pharmacy owners, pharmacy professionals and teams.
“The inspectors will also be identifying examples of how you are meeting some of these challenges so that others can learn quickly from your approaches. We will share that through our online knowledge hub and with representative bodies and other organisations who are there to support you.”
It follows a joint statement from health and social care regulators stating that regulation would need to be flexible in these “highly challenging circumstances”.
Anyone who may be added to the temporary register will be contacted “later this week”, the GPhC said.
“We will also share information with employers about what they would need to do if they were planning to employ someone on the temporary register and signpost to information from the NHS and other organisations,” the statement added.