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Inadequate staffing levels enter top 5 most common inspection failures

Inadequate staffing levels have for the first time entered the top five areas failed in pharmacy inspections, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has revealed.

The GPhC’s standard of having “enough staff, suitably qualified and skilled, for the safe and effective provision of pharmacy services” was not met by 27 pharmacies between January and March 2018, the regulator said in council papers published earlier this month (June 7).

It was the joint-third most commonly failed standard among the 1,068 pharmacies inspected over this period. You can see all five of the top inspection issues below.

“Typical” staffing issues identified by GPhC inspectors included “inadequate staff numbers to cope with the workload; staffing levels not being adequately considered before taking on a new service; and inadequate provision to accommodate planned or unplanned absences”, the GPhC said.

“Small numbers involved”

In an exclusive interview with C+D last week (June 14), GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said that while any standard not met during an inspection is “a concern”, “the numbers involved are relatively small”.

However, adequacy of staffing is a “live issue” and one the regulator is “continuing to monitor very closely”, he added.

Sharing details of closures

The GPhC noted in its council papers that its members recommended that pharmacies be prepared to share their staffing plans during inspections, including details of any occasions when premises had to be closed due to staffing issues.

Mr Rudkin said while it is a matter for the NHS in England, Wales and Scotland to “monitor contractual performance” – including pharmacy opening hours – there may be some “overlap” in situations where the pharmacy has closed for safety reasons.

Expect more concerns raised

On May 24, the GPhC received new legal powers to publish pharmacy inspection reports. As part of a 12-week consultation – which will close on August 9 – the regulator has proposed publishing the reports of individual pharmacies on a new website, as well as “examples [of pharmacies] that demonstrate both good or excellent practice…and examples where standards are not being met”.

Mr Rudkin told C+D that “it is a reasonable hypothesis” to assume that there will be a greater number of concerns raised as a result of inspection reports being made publicly available.

“It doesn’t necessarily follow that there are more problems in pharmacy,” he stressed. But as the GPhC “makes regulation more visible to the public…of course this will be associated with a spike or increase in complaints and concerns”.

Top five standards failed by pharmacies in January-March

  1. Medicines and medical devices are: obtained from a reputable source; safe and fit for purpose; stored securely; safeguarded from unauthorised access; supplied to the patient safely; and disposed of safely and securely (standard 4.3, failed by 45 pharmacies)
  2. The risks associated with providing pharmacy services are identified and managed (standard 1.1, failed by 38 pharmacies)
  3. There are enough staff, suitably qualified and skilled, for the safe and effective provision of the pharmacy services provided (standard 2.1, failed by 27 pharmacies)
  4. All necessary records for the safe provision of pharmacy services are kept and maintained (standard 1.6, failed by 27 pharmacies)
  5. Pharmacy services are managed and delivered safely and effectively (standard 4.2, failed by 26 pharmacies)

Source: GPhC council meeting, June 7

Does your pharmacy have adequate staffing levels?

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