Eight in 10 members of the public supports unannounced premises inspections in community pharmacy, a survey has revealed.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) found that almost eight in 10 (79%) members of the public think that conducting unannounced inspections will give them more reassurance on the safety and effectiveness of the services delivered in a pharmacy.

On top of this, the regulator in May launched a consultation on conducting unannounced inspections alongside a series of proposals on premises inspections. In total, 812 organisations and individuals responded to the GPhC's consultation, which closed on 9 August.


Public support


At the moment, the GPhC gives pharmacies four to six weeks’ notice on its intention to inspect the premises.

Moving to unannounced inspections will ‘make sure the outcomes of the inspection reflect whether the pharmacy is meeting the standards every day’, the GPhC argued.

As part of the proposals, the regulator wants to change the inspection outcomes, with two possible overall findings – ‘standards met’ or ‘standards not all met’. Failure to meet all standards could result in the pharmacy getting an overall ‘standards not all met’ outcome.

However, less than half of respondents (47%) agreed that a pharmacy meeting all standards but one should receive an overall outcome of ‘standards not all met’.


‘Unfair to pharmacists’


The GPhC also said that many respondents consider unannounced inspections ‘unfair to pharmacists’.

‘Respondents often said that unannounced inspections would be disruptive and stressful for the pharmacy team, adding to the existing burden in community pharmacy,’ the GPhC wrote in papers published ahead of its council meeting yesterday (8 November).

‘A common argument was that there might be an emergency or an isolated incident of poor performance on the particular day of the inspection, which might not show the pharmacy in its true light.

‘Another recurring theme in the comments was that the current approach was working well and there was no need to overhaul it completely, where it might be more suitable to adapt and refine it.’

The GPhC said that it will analyse the consultation’s responses in November and publish its final decision in December, with the proposals and the publication of reports coming into force early 2019.