The move to unannounced pharmacy inspections has ‘reduced stress’ for some contractors, the chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.

In December 2018, the regulator confirmed it would begin making unannounced visits on pharmacies from April this year, following a consultation which garnered over 800 responses.

The announcement was met with a mixed reaction from the sector, with one contractor warning that unannounced inspections would lead to extra work and stress ‘without a doubt’.

GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin told The Pharmacist in an exclusive interview that informal feedback on the unannounced inspections suggests that the change may have had the opposite effect.

He said: ‘I have heard some anecdotal feedback - perhaps unexpectedly for some - that the move to unannounced has actually reduced stress because it’s reduced that element of waiting for weeks knowing that the inspector might be coming.

‘Maybe the stress on the day is slightly different but that anticipatory stress may not be such an issue. I think there are swings and roundabouts with a change like that.’


Pharmacists will 'get used' to new model


Mr Rudkin acknowledged the concerns voiced by the sector but suggested it wouldn’t take long for contractors to adapt to the new inspection system.

He said: ‘Some of the apprehension about this was very understandable as it was an important change, but I suspect actually that it is something that people are going to get used to relatively quickly.

‘The basic point that we need to see a pharmacy in its normal state when we inspect is, generally speaking, pretty hard to argue with. I hope people will increasingly see the benefit in that.’

He added that it is ‘still relatively early days’ and that the regulator will need to analyse the impact of unannounced inspections, both on inspection outcomes and the experience of those being inspected.