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Why CQC is teaming with GPhC to tackle 'hybrid dispensaries'

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have joined forces to investigate “hybrid dispensaries”, C+D has learned.

In March, the CQC announced a "programme of inspections" into "digital healthcare providers" in the UK, which will "prioritise those services it considers as potentially presenting a significant risk to patients".

Speaking exclusively to C+D on Monday (July 3), CQC regional medicines director Rob Liddington said "there are a couple of drivers" behind the two regulators joining forces.

"Online and digital prescribing [is] one," and also "hybrid dispensaries". Some are registered pharmacies, overseen by the GPhC, "and the rest are registered premises under our regulations", Mr Liddington explained.

"We’re working together to make sure we’re all working to the same aim, and that is obviously patient safety."

Mr Liddington’s comments come in the wake of a CQC inspection report into Pharmacy2U’s online clinic, published last week, which found the service was “not safe or well-led”.

During a session at the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK's (APTUK) conference on Monday, CQC medicines inspector Hayley File outlined the five areas that a CQC inspection looks at: safety, effectiveness, care, responsiveness, and whether the health service is well-led.

Mr Liddington said safety is the main "driver" for the regulator. "It is great that [organisations] can be effective and caring…but we need to make sure people are creating [a] safe service," he added.

Mr Liddington – who has conducted inspections himself on behalf of the regulator – also said there is evidence to suggest that "medicines are managed well" when care homes are "actively engaged" with their local community pharmacy.

Does your pharmacy have an online dispensary service?

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