Pharmacy regulator to review premises ranking system

The General Pharmaceutical Council will scrap the ‘satisfactory’ category from community pharmacy premises inspection rankings after concerns that it may be misinterpreted.

General Pharmaceutical Council signage

The pharmacy regulator is launching an urgent review of controversial community pharmacy premises inspection rankings and has announced that the ‘satisfactory’ category will not appear in the final inspection model.

The move follows criticism that most community pharmacy premises inspected under the new system — more than 90% — fell into the ‘satisfactory’ band; only up to 6% were ranked ‘good’.

Some pharmacists complained that the figures, revealed in a 2014 survey by the community pharmacy organisation Pharmacy Voice, could be interpreted by patients that the majority of premises were “unsafe”. The survey results prompted calls for the prototype inspection model to be revamped.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) review is an acknowledgement of the professional disquiet about the category labels, says the GPhC’s chief executive and registrar Duncan Rudkin.

“The ‘satisfactory’ label will not appear in the final consultation,” he says. “This is a prototype model and is a completely different way of inspecting premises; it would have been incredible if we had got everything right in one go.”

The review was welcomed by Margaret MacRury, a board member of Pharmacy Voice. “It is encouraging that, true to its word, the GPhC is listening to feedback on inspections. Pharmacy Voice has been very clear that the term ‘satisfactory’ would be misleading for the public.”

Pharmacy Voice also wants the regulator to review the breadth of gradings. “In the current system, an overwhelming majority of pharmacies sit in one grading,” says MacRury. “Again, we believe this is misleading for the public as it does not reflect the actual variation between the pharmacies.”

The announcement of the review came at the same time as the GPhC confirmed its plans to give patients in Great Britain access to pharmacy premises inspection reports.

Members of the public will be able to see whether their pharmacy meets the minimum professional standards and will be able to find out how it has been ranked by the GPhC and how it compares to others.

Details of how much of the inspection report will be published, where the information will be made available and for how long will be thrashed out during public consultation at a later date, says Rudkin.

But the underlying principle that in future patients will have access to the reports is not up for debate, he says. “It is the right thing that these reports should be published and that has always been our intention,” he adds.

The GPhC’s consultation on its final model for pharmacy regulation is expected to follow within weeks of the necessary legislative changes. The intention is that the new inspection regime, which will apply to England, Wales and Scotland, will begin in 2016.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 7 March 2015, Vol 294, No 7852;294(7852):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20067951

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