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My views on unannounced inspections: ‘We need a clearer narrative on why this change is happening’

By Rachel Carter
Freelance journalist

11 Mar 2019

In this series, contractors tell us their views on the new General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) inspection model


Ade Williams  Superintendent pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy, Bristol

‘What I am struggling to understand is what flaws in the current inspection model this is fixing. Is the change happening because of recent incidents? Or a particular issue that’s been identified?

‘The GPhC has done very well on this in the past. But I do think it would be helpful to have a clearer narrative, especially to the professionals who are being regulated.


On unannounced visits


‘I would point out that even though you get notice currently, it’s a six-week time frame and they don’t give you a set date. I’ve had the inspector not turn up until after the six weeks is over, and I’ve had them come completely unannounced because the pharmacy they planned to visit was shut for lunch and we were next on their list. ‘The current inspection model also gives the opportunity for the pharmacy team to interact with inspectors and so they have a clearer idea of your practice, ideas you may have. Yes, you are being inspected, but you are also having  a conversation.

‘It’s really the only time we have an interaction in that manner with the regulator and we lose that opportunity if we are unprepared for their visit. It risks changing the dynamic to more of a policing exercise.


On public inspection reports


‘I think making information available to the public is always a good thing, as long as it’s presented in a way that helps the public understand the context of that information. So how the information is designed, what it’s saying and what it’s meant to say should be tested. There’s got to be a very clear message and it mustn’t be ambiguous. If we get that really wrong, it could amount to a loss of confidence in community pharmacy.


On the new ratings


‘The key thing is making sure the ratings reflect the true story. Good practice in community pharmacy is very commonplace, so the exception is to find pharmacies not meeting the standards, and we need to make sure those exceptions don’t become viewed as the norm. Of course there will always be individual interpretation, but there’s got to be a process that takes that on board. The ratings should be something that professionals and the public understand, and most importantly that drive standards forward.’


As told to Rachel Carter, freelance journalist

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