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Routine inspections: GPhC selects 800 pharmacies for ‘proportionate approach’ trial

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is carrying out checks at 800 randomly selected pharmacies as it trials a new “proportionate approach” to its routine inspections.

The GPhC’s July council papers revealed that its inspection team had already begun to test “a routine sample approach” to pharmacy inspections, to get “adequate assurance” that pharmacies were meeting its standards across the board.

C+D reported earlier this year that the trial – which aims to capture a “snapshot of performance on the register” by only inspecting a representative sample of pharmacies – was due to begin in May.

Read more: Inspections: GPhC trials model giving ‘snapshot’ of pharmacies’ performance

A GPhC spokesperson told C+D last week (July 18) that it has selected a “stratified random sample” of 800 pharmacies to inspect using this new approach.

The regulator’s inspection team is “still in the process of carrying out” these reviews and is working through the visits “in two tranches”, the spokesperson said.

The standards pharmacies are required to meet and the way in which inspections are carried out are not going to change.

The team is “inspecting those pharmacies selected in the normal way”, the spokesperson stressed.


Findings published this year


The regulator resumed its routine pharmacy inspections in January this year, after suspending them throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GPhC spokesperson could not share any learnings with C+D about its proposed approach to inspections at this stage as the trial is “at [its] very early stages”.

However, the GPhC is planning on publishing its “initial findings” later this year, they said.

Read more: GPhC to introduce ‘risk-based’ inspection programme later this year

In March, Claire Bryce-Smith, the GPhC’s director of insight, intelligence and inspections, told delegates at the Avicenna conference that the regulator wants to “rebalance resources across the inspection model” and “accelerate the evolution” of its approach.

She pointed out that most pharmacies meet the GPhC’s standards but suggested that contractors pay particular attention to six key standards (listed below).

  • 1.1 The risks associated with providing pharmacy services are identified and managed
  • 1.2 The safety and quality of pharmacy services are reviewed and monitored
  • 2.2 Staff have the appropriate skills, qualifications and competence for their role and the tasks they carry out, or are working under the supervision of another person while they are in training
  • 2.4 There is a culture of openness, honesty and learning
  • 4.2 Pharmacy services are managed and delivered safely and effectively
  • 4.3 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
  • disposed of safely and securely.

Source: GPhC Standards for registered pharmacies

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