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.
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