The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is consulting on conducting unannounced inspections as part of a new series of proposals on premises inspections, it has announced.

The GPhC is consulting on developing its approach to regulating registered pharmacies in a bid to respond to the changing needs of patients, the public and pharmacy, it said yesterday (18 May).

One of the proposed changes is to move to unannounced premises inspections, ‘as a general rule’, because this will ‘make sure the outcomes of the inspection reflect whether the pharmacy is meeting the standards every day’, the GPhC said.


New proposals

The proposed changes are the following:

  • Changes to the types of inspections, which would include routine, intelligence-led and themed inspections
  • Moving to unannounced inspections as a general rule in the future
  • Changing inspection outcomes, with two possible outcomes for an inspection overall – ‘standards met’ or ‘standards not all met’ and four possible findings at the principle level – ‘standards not all met’, ‘standards met’, ‘good practice’ and ‘excellent practice’
  • Requiring all standards to be met to receive an overall ‘standards met’ outcome. If any standard is found not to be met, this will result in a ‘standards not all met’ outcome overall
  • Publishing inspection reports and improvement action plans when relevant on a new website
  • Sharing examples of notable practice, which will be published on the new website

Even though the current ‘show and tell approach’ to inspections is ‘working well’, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin argued that it is now ‘time to reflect and build upon’ it.


‘More flexible and agile’ 

He continued: ‘We want to move to a more flexible and agile way of working so that we can more effectively respond to the changing needs of patients and the public and to changes in pharmacy.

‘We hope our proposals will strengthen the assurance we provide to the public that pharmacies are meeting standards and to drive continuous improvement in the quality of pharmacy services and care.’

The main change will be the introduction of new inspection reports, which will ‘provide much more assurance to patients, the public and those working across pharmacy and health that pharmacies are meeting standards that ensure the provision of safe and effective services’, said GPhC chair Nigel Clarke.


‘More intuitive and robust process’

Independent support group Numark said that the proposed introduction of intelligence led and themed inspections means there is likely to be a ‘more intuitive and robust process’.

It added: ‘Indeed, their move to unannounced inspections will deliver transparency and much needed rigor from a pharmacy point of view and is an important step to driving standards that meet expectations of healthcare within local communities.'

The consultation runs until 9 August.