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Explain how you are meeting premises standards, GPhC chief tells independents

Practice Duncan Rudkin says independent pharmacies need to become better at articulating how they are meeting standards to avoid inspections dragging out

Independent pharmacies must learn to explain how they are meeting premises standards or risk dragging out inspection visits, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin has said.

The regulator had received feedback that some independent pharmacists had found the new premises inspections were taking "longer than people have been used to", Mr Rudkin told the Sigma conference in Mexico on Monday (February 17).

Visits should take an average of two hours, but this relied on pharmacists and their teams being able to articulate how they were meeting standards, Mr Rudkin said via videolink.

"People for whom meeting the standards comes as second nature need to be able to talk us through it," GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin said

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"You're practical people. Practical people may be very good at meeting the standards, but that technique of showing and describing how you're doing it may come less easily," he told delegates.

"People for whom meeting the standards comes as second nature need to be able to talk us through it and demonstrate how it's been done," Mr Rudkin said.

Mr Rudkin assured independent pharmacists they were not being judged by different standards to multiples and said it was up to pharmacists to provide inspectors with evidence to prove they were maintaining a safe environment.

He defended the new inspection regime and said it was not an "undue imposition" for pharmacists to undergo a visit for a few hours every three years.

Alliance Healthcare chairman Mike Smith said pharmacists should prepare their team for a visit to avoid it taking too long.

"One would assume that if you're well prepared then [the inspection] could be done in a pretty timely manner," he told C+D.

NPA chief executive Mike Holden agreed that pharmacists could save time by rehearsing the questions inspectors would ask the pharmacy team.

"There's no point having the theory in the head of the owner. You need to have the application of that in practice by the whole team," he told C+D.

The new inspection regime sought to move away from a "prescriptive or rules-based approach" to look for evidence that pharmacies were consistently maintaining a safe and effective environment, the GPhC has said.

Pharmacies will be given one of four ratings – poor, satisfactory, good or excellent – but details of these will not be made public until the standards are fully in force later this year.

The inspections will look at five main principles: risk management, staffing, equipment and facilities, the delivery of services and the premises themselves.

Mr Rudkin told C+D in an exclusive interview this month that he still believed in the current approach of informing pharmacies an inspection would take place in the next four to six weeks, without revealing the time or date.  

Do you think the GPhC's inspections are taking too long?

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Samuel Jacobs, Community pharmacist

More stress and worry being levied on the overworked pharmacist . There is a hidden agenda here to drive all self-employed pharmacists towards the larger groups/multiples who are intent on monopolising their hold. The GPhc is now their tool to intimidate us into submission.

Disillusioned Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Isn't the basic right 'innocent until proven guilty'? Therefore by law is it not the case that the obligation is on the GPhc to prove if we are NOT meeting the premises standards rather than for us to prove our innocence i.e that we ARE meeting the premises standards.
They do operate the other way round in the FTP hearings depending on the mood of the day so I don't know why I would expect it to be any different for this.

David Sharp, Community pharmacist

nothing adds up we must be prepared to demostrate our processes ,no problem but a locum has no interest in any of this and may be there for the day only
the new inspection is a selling yourself prpocess ,mine took 4 hours plus and the inspector was welcome to see all and ask all but she wanted me to tell her what we did and talk to the team to see how engaged they are and how they work. ,My inspector is welcome anytime but if the Gphc want to see how it all works and get the full story then get the regular pharmacist there.and that requires appointments.
i did not prepare or practice, this inspection is about everyday pharmacy

Ben Reiss, Other healthcare professional

a good business idea would be for a company to rehearse the inspection before the inspection.......charge £500 for it!

ROBERT SHODUNKE, Community pharmacist

That is a great idea......hmmmm

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