In the consultation document – published yesterday (May 17) – the GPhC sets out six proposed changes to its inspections model, including introducing new “intelligence-led” inspections and unannounced visits, as well as publishing inspection reports “for the first time”.
GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said publishing inspection reports “marks a significant change for pharmacy”.
“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,” he added.
The consultation closes in August, and the regulator “expects to begin publishing inspection reports from the first part of 2019”, it said.
Online and distance-selling pharmacies
The GPhC told C+D that the proposed changes will also apply to its inspections of online pharmacies.
The regulator discussed its approach to regulating online pharmacies at a council meeting on May 10.
It is working with “other regulators such as the Care Quality Commission and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency”, and reviewing its guidance for distance-selling pharmacies.
“There [are] a number of fitness-to-practise cases at the moment involving online pharmacies and there [are] ongoing discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care about regulatory gaps,” it added.
“Strengthening” staffing levels guidance
Following feedback from a consultation on “ensuring a safe and effective pharmacy team” – which ran from July-October 2017 – the GPhC has also “strengthened” its proposals for how pharmacy owners should manage staffing levels, staff concerns and training, it said at the May council meeting.
In its revised draft guidance – included in the May council meeting documents – the GPhC said pharmacy owners must ensure all members of the team have the knowledge and confidence to “raise concerns, without fear” when “staffing plans are not effective” or the skill mix is inappropriate.
“The number of staff and the skill mix needed to provide safe and effective pharmacy services will vary significantly between pharmacies,” it added. “This means [pharmacy owners] have to take a tailored approach to staffing levels.”
The regulator “anticipate[s] publishing the guidance in June”, it said.
GPhC to continue accrediting training
At the council meeting, the GPhC also announced it is dropping proposals to stop accrediting dispensing and medicines counter assistant training, after concerns were raised about the “potential decline in the standard of courses”.
“Respondents felt the current system was working well and was well understood by everyone. They believed the quality assurance function should be retained, and if the GPhC were to withdraw from this, then another reputable organisation should step in and provide this level of assurance,” the GPhC noted.
“We will retain the current policy, in relation to minimum training requirements and will continue to approve courses and training programmes until such time that the education development programme looks at this area in further detail,” it added.