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CQC accuses pharmacies of 'suspected criminal offence'

CQC pharmacy criminal offence NPA help
Leyla Hannbeck: Pharmacies providing online prescribing services should contact NPA

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) is urging members to contact its lawyers if they receive a letter from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) suggesting they have committed a criminal offence.

According to an announcement from NPA chief pharmacist Leyla Hannbeck, published on the NPA’s website yesterday (June 29), the letters were sent to "a few" pharmacies and appear to suggest they have not registered with the CQC as a service provider – in breach of Section 10 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

Ms Hannbeck confirmed to C+D this morning that "a few contractors have received strongly-worded letters" from the CQC".

In her announcement, she said contractors need to be aware that they should contact the NPA if they receive a letter titled: "Important – concerns suspected criminal offence".

Representatives from the health regulator will be coming to the NPA "over [the] coming weeks" for "in-depth communication" regarding the letters and suspected breaches, Ms Hannbeck told C+D.

Reasons for alleged breach

"Community pharmacies are generally exempted from the requirement to be registered with the CQC," Ms Hannbeck explained in her announcement.

However, if pharmacies provide "regulated activities" such as "treatment of disease, disorder or injury" – as defined under Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care Act – they may need to be registered with the regulator.

Ms Hannbeck gave the examples of where a community pharmacy and a doctor’s prescribing service are both part of the same legal entity, or where a pharmacy "employs a GP, doctor, or CQC-regulated healthcare professional as part of the community pharmacy business".

"[The letter] also mentions that the CQC can carry out unannounced visits and inspect relevant premises where they suspect a Section 10 offence has been committed; this may include registered pharmacy premises," Ms Hannbeck warned.

She added that the NPA has supported affected members in providing suitable responses to the CQC, and urged concerned contractors to contact the regulator for clarification, "especially if you provide online prescribing services as part of your pharmacy business".

C+D has not received a response from the CQC at time of going to press.

Have you received a letter from the CQC?

John Ellis, Community pharmacist

"treatment of disease, disorder or injury" is a very broad term, and could conceivably include some everyday pharmacy activities, such as flu vaccinations, minor ailments schemes and treatment of superficial wounds. Does this mean every pharmacy must now register with the CQC? If this is the case, what's the point of the GPhc?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Could the CQC be doing a better job than the GPhC? I am encouraged.

jack The-Lad, Communications

Ofcourse they are. GphC probably all meet up with multiples directors for "for chin wag " at posh club in London on friday night .

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Looks like CQC need another income stream from registration fees - oh yes, let's bully the pharmacy profession this time! Has anyone done a survey on how many pharmacists re leaving the profession?? Bet it would be an eye opener!

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

Ha! The CQC are absolute amateurs when it comes to intimidation tactics. Don't they realise this is the profession overseen by the GPhC?!


I worked for Boots for three years, treading on eggshells, trying not to look at my area manager sideways lest I would be on the receiving end of some 'Guardian investigation' style antics. So the fact that these nobodies think they'll have me quaking in my Shoe Zone £7.99 black leatherette brogues is laughable. 

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Oh dear red tape gone mental!!

Sharon Stone, Communications

Utter disgraceful !!  One of the oldest professions has been usurped by idiots !!!!!!

Best Farma, Ecommerce

Very sad to say but the profession needs a 'Grenfell' type catastrophe for the regulators/government to wake up. Till that happens the ship will keep drifting towards the rocks.

Andrew Nicholson, Community pharmacist

We are already well regulated.How can you compare a fire in a block of flats to regulation of our profession?


Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

Regulation so the public safety yes? So well regulated, professional concerns are dismissed by the regulator! Look how many professionals cannot report the safety concerns due to fear of job loss, as well as an apathetic body.

Yuna Mason, Sales

Meanwhile at the GPhC...

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Yes, the silence is deafening! Have our back as usual...

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

I think they follow the policy of ignorance is bliss

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