Publishing pharmacy inspection reports online will improve transparency and drive improvement to services, pharmacy bodies have said.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) all welcomed the announcement this week (17 September) that the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has begun making its inspection reports publicly available on a new dedicated website.

The website will show how well a pharmacy is performing against five principles and whether it has met all of the GPhC’s standards for registered pharmacies, as well as featuring an ‘improvement action plan’ for any unmet standards and a ‘knowledge hub’ to showcase best practice.


RPS: ‘Welcome transparency’

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said it was ‘good news’ that over 85% of pharmacies meet all the GPhC’s inspection standards, according to an analysis of 14,000 past inspections published on the new website.

Publishing the reports ‘is a vital step to protecting the public and ensuring an accurate picture of pharmacy practice’, RPS president Sandra Gidley said.

‘The website and the overall analysis report provide welcome transparency on how well pharmacies are performing. The improvement action plans for those not meeting the standards support pharmacy teams to change their practice and bring reassurance to the public that steps are being taken to address any shortfalls,’ she added.

She said that the impact of good governance and systems on a pharmacy’s service provision ‘couldn’t be clearer’ from the report.

She said: ‘Pharmacists often work under enormous pressure made worse by system failures and end up taking personal responsibility for things beyond their control. This is a huge cause of workplace stress and a barrier to best practice. Pharmacists want to work in good pharmacies, with good systems and culture and these inspection reports will help with this. Improving governance, investing in staff and great leadership will reduce workplace stresses and barriers to best practice.’


NPA: Independents ‘go the extra mile’

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) said the move ‘brings pharmacy into line’ with expectations for the regulation of public services and will empower patients to ‘make informed choices’ about their care.

NPA head of advice and support services Jasmine Shah said: ‘It’s encouraging that nine in 10 pharmacies met all the standards set by the regulator. Most of the pharmacies rated excellent since 2013 are independent pharmacies, which indicates that independents are prepared to go the extra mile to provide great service to their patients.’

However, the membership body would like to see ‘consistently high-quality care’ in all pharmacies, she added.


PSNC: A step in the right direction

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) also welcomed the move, which it said would help ‘drive improvement’ to pharmacy services.

PSNC director of operations and support Gordon Hockey said: ‘Although new and perhaps uncomfortable to some, the publication of pharmacy inspection reports accords with the general direction of travel for the regulation of healthcare professionals and the premises from which they work. The associated knowledge hub and learning tools should also assist contractors to comply with these GPhC standards.’


CCA: ‘More flexible and responsive’ regulation

The Company Chemists Association (CCA) said it ‘supports the GPhC’s new approach’ during a time of great change for the sector.

CCA chief Malcolm Harrison said: ‘We agree with the move towards a more flexible and responsive regulatory approach, especially as the delivery of pharmacy services evolves. Transparency around inspection results will give patients the information they need to make an informed choice about which community pharmacy they use and drive quality improvement among contractors.’

The CCA expects the GPhC to keep the new system ‘under review’ to ensure it achieves its intended aims, he added.